A Passage Study: 2 Timothy 2:14-19

Passage outline

The main points are all imperatives in the Greek. Studying in the original languages often shows the author’s structure or frame of ideas. Imperatives are indicated in red.

2 Timothy 2:14-19

  1. Remind (vs 14) ὑπομιμνῄσκω 2nd person singular
    1. “these things” refer to 2:8-13
    2. And charge them before God:
      1. Not to quarrel about words
        1. Which does no good
        2. But only ruins the hearers.
  2. Do your best (vs 15) σπουδάζω 2nd person singular
    1. To present yourself to God as one approved
      1. A worker who has no need to be ashamed
      2. Rightly handling the Word of Truth
  3. Avoid irreverent babble (16) περιΐστημι 2nd person singular
    1. Leads to ungodliness
    2. Spreads like gangrene
    3. Hymenaeus and Philetus as examples
  4. Depart from iniquity: )19) ἀφίστημι.
    Third-person singular. God’s firm foundation
    1. The Lord knows those who are his: salvation
    2. Depart from iniquity: sanctification

Emphasis: “This is what you must do in your ministry.” I.e., “This is what the Gospel ministry looks like.”

Strategies: I notice that the passage is ordered around four imperatives: 2nd person (3x); 3rd person (1x).


a) the literary context (the passages on either side): The literary context is connected by “these things” in vs. 14 which refers to 2:8-13 (something of a creed). This context supplies what Timothy is to bring to remembrance, in addition to the things following vs. 14.

Vss. 20ff. illustrate the differences between the gangrene of vss. 17ff., and show the results of obeying vs. 19

b) the historical context (circumstances and culture of the audience): This context is the rise of false teachers in the church, even though it was only a few decades old. If vss. 11-13 form an early creed, this signals the likelihood of such statements, and their importance in countering false teachers (compare vs. 11b to vss. 16-18)

c) the Biblical context (connections to other places in the Bible): As Paul’s final extant letter, we see his stress upon true doctrine as against false.

Vs. 19 is not a direct quote, but an allusion to Num. 16:5; Nah. 1:7; John 10:14, 27; [Luke 13:27]; See 1 Cor. 8:3. God knows the elect. This is reassuring: an upset faith contrasted to the Lord’s knowledge of His elect.

Main Idea or Emphasis:

Keep to the main idea, the Gospel.

The Gospel in this passage:

The Resurrection is central to the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4; 15:12). The correct view of the resurrection, both of Christ and the future resurrection of the dead is essential to the Gospel.

In contrast to false-gospels, the foundation of the Gospel stands.


To both believers and unbelievers: there is a canon of truth that is contained in Scripture that excludes other doctrines and teachings.

Believers need to be reminded to reject idle speculation and to learn to know the difference between Biblical doctrine and hobbies. Vs. 19 makes it clear that this kind of activity is iniquity.

Unbelievers need to be told that not everything they hear or see being taught by alleged Christians is actually true.

Preaching outline

  1. Timothy, Remind Them
    1. The Essential Truths
    2. Charge them not to quarrel about non-essentials
  2. Timothy, Do Your Best
    1. Be a fit worker
  3. Timothy, Avoid Them
    1. Avoid babble
      1. The decent into babble: upset faith
  4. Everyone, God’s foundation stands. Therefore if You Name the Name of the Lord, Depart from Iniquity
    1. You are of the elect
    2. You are therefore to forsake sin


What David Helm Calls, “Staying on the Line”


The following quote is from Charles Spurgeon. For more information on what “Staying on the Line” is all about, please visit the Charles Simeon Trust.

More information here.

Never strain passages when you are expounding. Be thoroughly honest with the word: even if the Scriptures were the writing of mere men, conscience would demand fairness of you; but when it is the Lord’s own word, be careful not to pervert it even in the smallest degree. Let it be said of you, as I have heard a venerable hearer of Mr. Simeon say of him, “Sir, he was very Calvinistic when the text was so, and people thought him an Arminian when the text was that way, for he always stuck to its plain sense.” A very sound neighbor of ours once said, by way of depreciating the grand old reformer, “John Calvin was not half a Calvinist,” and the remark was correct as to his expositions, for in them, as we have seen, he always gave his Lord’s mind and not his own. In the church of St. Zeno, in Verona, I saw ancient frescoes which had been plastered over, and then covered with other designs; I fear many do this with Scripture, daubing the text with their own glosses, and laying on their own conceits. There are enough of these plasterers abroad, let us leave the evil trade to them and follow an honest calling. Remember Cowper’s lines—

“A critic on the sacred text should be
Candid and learn’d, dispassionate and free;
Free from the wayward bias bigots feel,
From fancy’s influence and intemperate zeal;
For of all arts sagacious dupes invent,
To cheat themselves and gain the world’s assent,
The worst is—Scripture warped from its intent.”
C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: Commenting and Commentaries; Lectures Addressed to the Students of the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle., vol. 4 (New York: Sheldon & Company, 1876), 55–56.