II Timothy 2:23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Jesus faced many foolish and unlearned questions. At one point He rebuked the Sadducees of not knowing the Scriptures (Matthew 22). The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. They tried to trap Jesus and tried to prove that belief in the resurrection was a foolishness. Jesus addressed their accusations with a very fitting rebuke and also an answer to all who were listening and even for us today.
Jesus was not going against what Paul was directed to write here. There are no contradictions in the Scriptures. Jesus did not entertain the foolishness of the Sadducees’ question. He helped all who were there to see that the Sadducees were not worth following and He addressed their question in a way that there was no point in them pursuing it any further. The Sadducees did not change their minds because of Jesus’ answer. However, others had the opportunity to learn an important lesson about heaven. Sadly, many naysayers remain that way. They are too stubborn to accept the truth. As we see in our text, Paul was instructing Timothy how to deal with such people in the hope that they might be saved, or if they are saved, they might confess their sin and submit to God’s truth.
I have been thinking of how we should answer those who want to accuse us of being anti-vaxers. Instead of trying to defend a position that does not need any defence, we might be wise to ask those who want to raise this foolish question why they are anti-God? There are good Biblical reasons to reject the entire approach to this virus which includes the destructive shots. We need to help people to understand that this is much bigger than a virus, lock-downs and masks, etc. This is an attack against God’s Word. This is a dressed rehearsal for the time of the anti-christ. God knows this. Those who are leading the charge may not realize that, but some of them know they have developed an evil plot. The plan was developed over a number of years by a committee of individuals who hate God and love communism. Communism is a system that is completely anti-God.
God’s Word shows us the importance of family. Family is more than just those who live under one roof. Family extends to parents and grand-parents and adult children who have established their own households. To suggest that families are not allowed to see one another and hug one another, etc. is anti-God. To tell people that churches are dangerous places to be is anti-God. Many churches are anti-God, and are nothing more than social clubs. They can be closed, although it is not the place of ungodly governments to determine which ones are social clubs and which ones are true churches. God has given people a conscience and also a brain. God works in the conscience of all people to draw them to Himself. When a person examines any false religion, there are so many red flags that pop up. Those who cannot see that have shut out God’s working in their consciences. They have also rejected God’s Word and have chosen to operate within a vacuum.
II Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
There has been a steady falling away from the truth for a long time now. We are seeing this tragedy increasing. There are less true churches now than there were ten years ago. We have seen a massive bowing to government dictates from within ungodly churches. Some are demanding vaccine passports for entrance into their buildings. It is good that people are restricted from attending those places. Those people need to wake up and get into a true church.
Verse 24 tells us that the servant of the Lord must not strive. We need to know what we believe and why and we need to resist the temptation to try to “win” the argument. If we use God’s Word wisely and properly, we have already won because God’s Word is always the truth. It does not matter if people reject it or not. God’s Word is truth. Paul was victorious even though he was sitting in prison. It was the Judaizers that were the losers. They assumed they were winning because Paul was in prison. He still had liberty to preach and write Scripture. He could still pray for others. He had access to God’s throne of grace. Those who rejected the truth, are in torment today and will be for all eternity.
Striving is quarrelling. Many people do not understand the difference between a debate and a quarrel.
Acts 17:21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
The apostle Paul was directed by God to meet with the men of Athens. In the verses following the one we have quoted, Paul spent some time exposing the many false religions they had. They even had an idol to “the unknown God”. They were trying to cover all the bases. Paul rebuked them for being too superstitious. (Some of the perversions change the wording there). Paul was being gentle to them. He was not being cruel. He was being honest and in so doing he was helping them to see the need to get rid of all the false gods and to believe in the true God. He showed them Who the true God is.
It seems too often we have allowed a secular, ungodly society define Biblical terms for us. We need to look at the Word of God and define terms from that source. God’s Word is truth. Jesus was gentle with all men and we need to be as well. Jesus used a whip to drive out the money changers in the Temple. He did not take a sword and cut off their heads. He used the appropriate tool to show them that what they were doing was wicked. The Roman soldiers were not gentle toward Him when they whipped Him as hard as they could at His trial. They tore His body to shreds and would have enjoyed seeing Him drop dead right there. They were also not gentle when they nailed Him to the cross. They had a hatred for Him and they took pleasure in acting like wild animals.
The servant of the Lord needs to address the opposition with wisdom from God and not entertain their foolishness. Each situation will be different. The servant of the Lord needs to be walking in the Spirit and then he will know how to deal with each situation as it arises. We do not need to practice scenarios like this. We need to study to show ourselves approved unto God and if we are doing that, we can trust God to give us the right attitude and the right words when needed.
The servant of the Lord needs to be apt to teach. You cannot demand obedience just because you say so. When a child is quite small that works. As children grow older they need to see the benefit of obedience and the consequences of disobedience. In the local church, the pastor needs to teach all the counsel of God. Matthew 18:15-20 gives us very clear instructions on how disagreements are to be handled. In our text as well, we see how the servant of the Lord needs to conduct himself and how he needs to deal with those who oppose themselves. Heretics need to be exposed and dealt with so as to help them see their need to repent and be saved and also to help the saved to see the need to avoid such people and to be busy studying God’s Word so as not to fall into a similar trap.
In verse 25 we see the importance of meekness.
Numbers 12:3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
Meekness is not weakness. Jesus declared Himself to be meek and lowly. Meekness is “strength under God’s control.” It is not unbridled strength. Rather it is strength that is controlled by God. That includes physical, emotional and mental strength. The servant of the Lord needs to know the truth and stand upon the truth and from that position, help those who oppose themselves. It is important to note that those who reject the truth, are fighting against what they know to be true. They are fighting against God in their conscience and they are taking their frustration out on other people. They need to know they will never win their fight against God. They may hurt or even kill some Christians, but they will never win against God. Timothy needed to be able to teach those who were opposed to the truth so that they might repent and acknowledge the truth. No one should assume from verse 25 that God does not allow some people to repent. What happens, and we see it often in the Bible, is that people reject God’s Word and then He lets them go in their wicked ways. He wants all to be saved, but if a person insists on rebelling, God will let them have more room to do just that. Many have destroyed their lives and the lives or others as well because they have chosen to fight against the truth. It frustrates them, but they are too stubborn to turn to God. God does not tell us when a person is in that state. He is God and He knows when that is the case. We would be wasting our time to try to discover which ones God has turned loose to pursue their evil plans. As Paul told Timothy, we need to be apt to teach and seek to help the fighters to see the need to stop fighting and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
The apostle Paul, who was Saul earlier, was given room to travel from place to place to try to shut down those of “this way”. Saul consented to the death of Stephen. He had letters to put people in prison in Damascus. Ananias was fearful to go and pray for Saul because Saul had a reputation. However, Ananias went because God told him to. He discovered the power of God to change a fighter of God into a faithful servant of God.
We do not know what God is doing in the heart of the lost. Our duty is to know the truth and be able to help the lost to see the blessing of turning to the truth. God is working in their hearts already. He requires His servants to be that tool that He can use to remind them of the truth.
In verse 26 we see the power of the devil. He loves to trap people. He has many tricks and he is quite successful with the lost. He can also discourage the saints. We see here again, that those who oppose themselves have the ability to recover themselves from the snare of the devil. God enables them to do that. He is there to help anyone who will call upon Him for salvation. That is what we see in Saul’s life. That is what we see in the Philippian jailer’s life. That is what we see all through the Scriptures. God desires to see people saved. He is calling upon His servants to be ready and available to serve Him faithfully. He rewards faithfulness.