26 October 2007

2 Timothy 2:14-26

"Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. ...Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, and their talk will spread like gangrene". (v. 14, 16-17a)


Like the letters to Philemon and Titus, the two letters to Timothy are different from the rest of the New Testament letters as they are addressed to individuals rather than groups of believers. Timothy was a young man who was leader of the church in Ephesus (Western Turkey) and the letters to him are to encourage and assist him in his work.

Hymenaeus and Philetus are false teachers, negative examples in contrast to the faithful ones of Paul and Jesus Christ. Philetus is someone we don't read of anywhere else in the New Testament, but Hymenaeus crops up in the first letter to Timothy - one of the people Paul has "turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme" (1 Timothy 1:20). It would seem that Hymenaeus is still saying things that should not be heard from a Christian.

Don't argue about words because it does no good, the letter says. Is that because such arguments waste time, or because words are unimportant?

But it is not only words that are mentioned. Timothy is to present himself as a worker. How do we achieve the right balance between words and action?

To Ponder

What do you think the author of this letter to Timothy would have to say to us about our use of words in an age of spin?

Have you ever sent an e-mail or text as a quick response - with later regrets?

Think about this week's news stories and how words have been used. Will they be like gangrene or help in the cause of truth?

Bible notes author

Revd Helen White

Helen White is a Methodist minister, currently serving in the Wantage and Abingdon circuit in south Oxfordshire. She has particular responsibility for Blewbury, Didcot, Milton and Upton Methodist churches, as well as sharing in the work of other churches across the circuit.