Second Timothy 2.14-21

[This is part of a running series on translating Second Timothy. See the introductory post for more information — RB]

Phrasing/Translation: 2Ti 2.14-21

14 Ταῦτα ὑπομίμνῃσκε
14 Remind them of these things,
    διαμαρτυρόμενος ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ 
    charging them before God
        μὴ λογομαχεῖν,
        not to fight about words, 
            ἐπʼ οὐδὲν χρήσιμον, 
            which is useful for nothing, 
            ἐπὶ καταστροφῇ τῶν ἀκουόντων. 
            resulting in the ruin of those who hear.

15 σπούδασον σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ,
15 Take pains to present yourself approved of God,
    ἐργάτην ἀνεπαίσχυντον,
    an unashamed worker,
    ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας.
    guiding the word of truth along a straight path.

16 τὰς δὲ βεβήλους κενοφωνίας περιΐστασο·
16 But shun frivolous, empty talk, 
    ἐπὶ πλεῖον γὰρ προκόψουσιν ἀσεβείας 
    for such will lead to even more ungodliness
    17 καὶ ὁ λόγος αὐτῶν ὡς γάγγραινα νομὴν ἕξει.
    17 and their word will spread like gangrene.

ὧν ἐστιν Ὑμέναιος καὶ Φίλητος,
Of whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
    18 οἵτινες περὶ τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἠστόχησαν,
    18 who have strayed in regards to the truth,
    λέγοντες [τὴν] ἀνάστασιν ἤδη γεγονέναι,
    saying the resurrection has already taken place,
    καὶ ἀνατρέπουσιν τήν τινων πίστιν.
    and they upset the faith of some.

19 ὁ μέντοι στερεὸς θεμέλιος τοῦ θεοῦ ἕστηκεν,
19 However, the solid foundation of God stands,
    ἔχων τὴν σφραγῖδα ταύτην·
    bearing the following inscription:
        ἔγνω κύριος τοὺς ὄντας αὐτοῦ,
        “The Lord knows those who are His,”
        καί·
        and
        ἀποστήτω
        “Depart
            ἀπὸ ἀδικίας
            from wickedness
            πᾶς ὁ ὀνομάζων τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου.
            all who name the name of the Lord.”

    20 Ἐν μεγάλῃ δὲ οἰκίᾳ
    20 Now in a large house
οὐκ ἔστιν
there are not
    μόνον σκεύη χρυσᾶ καὶ ἀργυρᾶ
    only pots of gold and silver
    ἀλλὰ καὶ ξύλινα καὶ ὀστράκινα,
    but also pots of wood and clay,
    καὶ
    [ ]
        ἃ μὲν εἰς τιμὴν
        some for honor
        ἃ δὲ εἰς ἀτιμίαν·
        and some for dishonor.
    21 ἐὰν οὖν τις ἐκκαθάρῃ ἑαυτὸν
    21 If then anyone might cleanse himself
        ἀπὸ τούτων,
        from these,
    ἔσται σκεῦος
    he will be a pot
        εἰς τιμήν,
        for honor,
        ἡγιασμένον,
        having been made holy,
        εὔχρηστον τῷ δεσπότῃ,
        useful to the master,
        εἰς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἡτοιμασμένον.
        having been prepared for every good work.

Comments

2Ti 2.14-26 is the larger section (cf. Van Neste, Marshall ICC); it will be examined in two smaller chunks: 2Ti 2.14-21 and 2Ti 2.22-26 (which the UBS4 text has as separate paragraphs).

Verse 14

Ταῦτα ὑπομίμνῃσκε] the section starts with another imperative, “Remind” or “Tell”; and a demonstrative pronoun. According to Runge, the pronoun is a “near demonstrative”. Here it is anaphoric, pointing back to the items which Paul has just discussed in previous verses (2Ti 2.1-13).

διαμαρτυρόμενος ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ] participial clause. The idiom “charging [you] before God” occurs elsewhere in the Pastorals, cf. 1Ti 5.21; 2Ti 4.1. A similar idiom with different verb (παραγγέλλω) is used in 1Ti 6.13. Here God is invoked as a witness of the charge that Paul is giving Timothy. While not strictly adhering to the syntactic criteria of the so-called “Charge Form” (cf. also Craig A. Smith, $amz(1905048297 Timothy’s Task, Paul’s Prospect: A New Reading of 2 Timothy)), it uses similar language complete with an appeal to authority. Timothy is to remind his hearers; one way to do that is to charge them before God of what it is they need to hear.

μὴ λογομαχεῖν] a negated infinitive, “not to fight about words”. As I read this currently, this is an exhortation from Paul to Timothy to not let folks disagree with them. The problem is false teaching, something that disagrees and is incompatible with Paul’s gospel. As Timothy presents this (charges them before God) he is to not let them fight about words; that is, he is to not let them disagree.

ἐπʼ οὐδὲν] The first of two subsequent prepositional phrases, both with ἐπὶ. Here it is ἐπὶ + accusative; “for nothing”; it appears to modify the word that follows, χρήσιμον. This analysis follows Marshall, ICC and differs with OpenText.org and Mounce WBC (and Lock, ICC) , which sees χρήσιμον as the object of the prepositional phrase. There isn’t much functional difference, but there is some difference in translation. This is the reason why one shouldn’t fight about words, it is useful for nothing. The next prepositional phrase gives the result.

χρήσιμον] a predicate adjective, “useful”.

ἐπὶ καταστροφῇ τῶν ἀκουόντων] The second prepositional phrase, here ἐπὶ + dative. This prepositional phrase communicates the result of the fight about words; it will result in the ruin of those hearing.

Verse 15

σπούδασον] aorist active imperative, “Take pains” or “make every effort” (BDAG); ESV “Do your best”. The action is completed with the following infinitive clause that functions as a complement. Paul uses σπουδαζω + infinitive three times outside of the Pastorals (Ga 2.10; Eph 4.3; 1Th 2.17); the same structure occurs 3x in Second Timothy: 2Ti 2.15; 4.9, 21. The structure also occurs in Heb 4.11; 2Pe 1.10, 15; 3.14.

σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ] Infinitive clause. Note that δόκιμον is in an appositive relation (also known as an “epexegetical” relation) with the following clause, “an unashamed worker”.

ἐργάτην ἀνεπαίσχυντον] appositional clause. Runge calls it a “Right Dislocation”, describing an appositional functionality. Here “approved” is further explained/enhanced by “an unashamed worker”. Both phrases describe a similar aspect of the same person.

ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας] participial clause, further modifying the adjective ἀνεπαίσχυντον. The interesting word here is the participle ὀρθοτομοῦντα, which only occurs here in the NT. While the traditional translation, which apparently hearkens back to Tyndale, is “rightly divide”, the basic idea of the word is “to cut a straight path” (BDAG). This is supported by LXX usage (Pr 3.6; 11.5). Spicq’s article in TLNT is worth consulting on ὀρθοτομέω, it tracks classical references to show how making a straight path “takes on a metaphorical sense” (Spicq, 2:595). See also the seven-part article on the Better Bibles Blog on this word. Many commentaries seem to focus on this word in isolation instead of noting its larger context; first in the immediately-following contrast with “frivolous, empty talk” and second with v. 17’s “their word will spread like gangrene”. Here, the word of truth is guided along a straight path, in v. 17 “their word” spreads like gangrene. That’s quite a contrast.

Verse 16

τὰς δὲ βεβήλους κενοφωνίας περιΐστασο] The δὲ is developmental; it shows a loose coupling between the previous section and this section, but implies a moving on from the previous section. The verb περιΐστασο is a middle imperative, but it is at the end of the clause—the position of the verb in the clause brings prominence to it. Also, as noted above, the contrast between this and the word of truth guided along a straight path.

ἐπὶ πλεῖον γὰρ προκόψουσιν ἀσεβείας] γὰρ indicates that the clause offers support as to why the babbling chatter is to be ignored: because it leads to greater (even more) ungodliness. Here the prepositional phrase is emphasized (prominent) as it is fronted in the clause.

Verse 17

καὶ ὁ λόγος αὐτῶν] “their word” is that of the opponents. Note the last mention of λόγος was above in v. 15, with v. 16 also operating in the domain of communication (“frivolous, empty talk”, also in reference to the opponents.

ὡς γάγγραινα νομὴν ἕξει] “will spread like gangrene”. BDAG uses “cancer” in its gloss (BDAG, νομή 2). Contrast this with the order of the spread of the word of truth in v. 15, “guiding the word of truth along a straight path”.

ὧν ἐστιν Ὑμέναιος καὶ Φίλητος] Here Paul singles out two of the opponents, bringing new participants into the discourse. The relative pronoun refers to the whole group.

Verse 18

οἵτινες περὶ τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἠστόχησαν] The relative pronoun has Hymenaeus and Philetus as its referent. The prepositional phrase περὶ τὴν ἀλήθειαν “concerning the truth” brings the subject matter into focus so the rest of clause has the information it needs to make sense. First, Paul had to activate Hymenaeus and Philetus; next he has to bring the topic of discussion into focus: regarding the truth (recall the subject matter of this letter and First Timothy before it: right doctrine), these men have strayed from it.

λέγοντες [τὴν] ἀνάστασιν ἤδη γεγονέναι] participle clause. This details how “straying from the truth” has taken place: the opponents say that the resurrection has already taken place.

καὶ ἀνατρέπουσιν τήν τινων πίστιν] In addition to “straying from the truth”, the opponents, personified in Hymenaeus and Philetus, have “upset the faith of some”. The καὶ logically connects ἠστόχησαν (aorist active indicative 3d plural) and ἀνατρέπουσιν (present active indicative 3d plural); they “went astray” and now they “upset”.

Verse 19

ὁ μέντοι στερεὸς θεμέλιος τοῦ θεοῦ ἕστηκεν] BDAG labels μέντοι as “mostly adversative”; Runge sees this as a point, the previous phrase being the counterpoint. I think it’s probably larger; that is, μέντοι is a hinge between the previous complex and this one: While the opponents continue schlepping ungodliness [μέντοι] the solid foundation of God stands.

ἔχων τὴν σφραγῖδα ταύτην] participle clause, providing support for the assertion that the solid foundation of God stands. It not only stands, it is inscribed with what follows. Note ταύτην, which points forward to what is inscribed on the foundation.

ἔγνω κύριος τοὺς ὄντας αὐτοῦ] treated as a quotative frame. This is a statement, “The Lord knows those who are his”.

καί] connective, joining the two quotative frames.

ἀποστήτω ἀπὸ ἀδικίας] first portion of the quotative frame. The prepositional phrase ἀπὸ ἀδικίας functions adverbially to provide circumstance to the verb; “depart from wickedness”.

πᾶς ὁ ὀνομάζων τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου] The participial clause functions as the subject of the whole clause. “The ones naming” is the substantival participle (in the nominative) while “the name of the Lord”, in the accusative, is the object of the participial clause; the whole thing functioning as a unit “all who are naming the name of the Lord”. These are the ones who are to “depart from wickedness”.

Verse 20

Ἐν μεγάλῃ δὲ οἰκίᾳ] Fronted prepositional phrase, here functioning as a “spatial frame” (Runge). In order for the balance of the clause to make sense, the changed scene needs to be made known. Here the switch is to a metaphor, or a wisdom statement.

οὐκ ἔστιν μόνον σκεύη χρυσᾶ καὶ ἀργυρᾶ] First portion of a counterpoint/point set using ἀλλὰ as hinge. This is a relatively standard structure, οὐ μόνον/ἀλλὰ καὶ (“not only/but also”) that is corrective and, to some degree, additive. (For more on this structure, see ΕΝ ΕΦΕΣΩ on its use in 4 Maccabees) In the large house, there are not only gold and silver pots …

ἀλλὰ καὶ ξύλινα καὶ ὀστράκινα] … there are also wood and clay pots. This is the second portion of the counterpoint/point set. Here Paul has effectively outlined two different sets of things (gold and silver; wood and clay) that occur in a larger context (the house).

καὶ ἃ μὲν εἰς τιμὴν] Here again is the first portion of a counterpoint/point set, indicated by μὲν/δὲ. This relates directly to the previous counterpoint/point set. With the two different sets of pots (gold and silver; wood and clay); some of those are for honor …

ἃ δὲ εἰς ἀτιμίαν] … and some for dishonor. This is the second portion, again. The relationships are well specified. Paul’s larger point is that in the set of things, some things are formed for honorable duty, others for dishonorable duty.

Verse 21

ἐὰν οὖν τις ἐκκαθάρῃ ἑαυτὸν ἀπὸ τούτων] Fronted subordinate clause (“Conditional-Exceptive Frame”, according to Runge), with prepositional phrase modifying the verb. We’re moving from the metaphor/wisdom statement into the real situation the metaphor is intended to describe. So here “from these” likely refers to what needs to be cleansed from dishonor (it makes no sense to cleanse the honorable ones, they’re already clean) in order to become honorable. The distinction between pots (gold/silver; wood/clay) has transformed to a distinction between honorable and dishonorable. Unlike pots in a house, those who are dishonorable can be cleansed and become honorable.

ἔσται σκεῦος] If cleansed, “he will be a pot”; this has four components (each in the accusative case; the whole thing a series of word groups functioning as the complement of the clause [OpenText.org]) that follow it up and describe the “cleansed pot” (thus, the one who has repented from the false doctrine [dishonor] and been cleansed and now is read to live the true doctrine [honor]).

εἰς τιμήν] a prepositional phrase, “for honor”. Once cleansed, the pot is no longer used for dishonorable purposes.

ἡγιασμένον] passive participle, “having been made holy”. This describes that the pot is now cleansed, and that the pot didn’t do it to itself.

εὔχρηστον τῷ δεσπότῃ] noun phrase, in the accusative, with a dative noun phrase qualifying the usefulness. “useful to the master”. The now-clean vessel is once again useful to the master of the house.

εἰς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἡτοιμασμένον] participle clause, with fronted prepositional phrase. According to Runge, this provides emphasis to the object of the prepositional phrase.

Note: The second portion of this chunk, 2Ti 2.22-26, will be discussed in a subsequent post.