2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NIV) 20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21 If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
On verses 14-26: The background behind these verses is that Timothy is still dealing with the threat of false teaching influencing his church. Individuals like Hymenaeus and Philetus were teaching that the resurrection “had already happened” (v18). In other words, these false teachers probably did not believe in actual physical resurrection and were denying the key Christian doctrine that Jesus did indeed resurrect from the dead. Such false teaching had already affected the faith of some people in Timothy’s church in Ephesus (v18b).
Paul tells Timothy to be careful in how he responds to these false teachers. He tells Timothy to teach his church:
– not to quarrel with false teachers (v14)
– avoid “godless chatter” with those false teachers (v16)
– behave as dignified workmen who know how to handle God’s Word correctly (v15)
– not to be shaken when some turn away from the church to follow these deceptions, since God already knows and has warned that this would happen (v19)
– not to get involved or embroiled in things that are not worth a Christian’s time, including false teaching, but to focus on living for God’s purposes (v20-21).
He also tells Timothy not to quarrel with the false teachers (v23-24), to be kind to everyone, and able to teach God’s Word clearly and gently (v24-25). He tells Timothy not to resent those who leave his church to follow false teaching (v24). Timothy is to gently instruct those who have been led astray, praying that they would come to their senses, escape from the devil’s deceptions, and return to God (v25-26).
What can we learn from all this? When you meet people who are so convinced of false teaching that they try to proselytize, be careful how you deal with them. Don’t quarrel with them. Don’t get into silly arguments. Know God’s Word well so that you don’t let their chatter to influence you. Also warn and protect those who are in your spiritual care to be careful against false teaching.
Heavenly Father, I want to be an instrument used for noble purposes, holy, useful to my Master and prepared to do any good work. Please give me and my church wisdom to know how to deal with false teaching, not to get involved in quarrels and useless arguments, to know Your Word well and to gently instruct and warn those in our care. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!