Second Timothy 2.22-26

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

Phrasing/Translation: 2Ti 2.22-26

22 Τὰς δὲ νεωτερικὰς ἐπιθυμίας φεῦγε,
22 So flee youthful desires.

δίωκε δὲ δικαιοσύνην πίστιν ἀγάπην εἰρήνην
Pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace;
    μετὰ τῶν ἐπικαλουμένων τὸν κύριον
    with those who call upon the Lord
        ἐκ καθαρᾶς καρδίας.
        out of a pure heart.

23 τὰς δὲ μωρὰς καὶ ἀπαιδεύτους ζητήσεις παραιτοῦ,
23 Reject foolish and ignorant speculations,
        εἰδὼς ὅτι γεννῶσιν μάχας·
        knowing that they breed quarrels.

24 δοῦλον δὲ κυρίου οὐ δεῖ μάχεσθαι
24 And it is not necessary for a slave of the Lord to quarrel
ἀλλὰ ἤπιον εἶναι πρὸς πάντας,
but to be gentle toward all,
    able to teach,
    25 ἐν πραΰτητι παιδεύοντα τοὺς ἀντιδιατιθεμένους,
    25 instructing with gentleness the ones who oppose you,
        μήποτε δώῃ αὐτοῖς ὁ θεὸς μετάνοιαν
        perhaps God may give them repentance
            εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας
            leading to knowledge of the truth 
        26 καὶ ἀνανήψωσιν 
        26 and they may come to their senses, 
            ἐκ τῆς τοῦ διαβόλου παγίδος, 
            out of the devil’s snare, 
            having been captured alive 
                ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ 
                by him
                εἰς τὸ ἐκείνου θέλημα. 
                to do his will.


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). See previous notes on 2Ti 2.14-21.

Further note: Each of the four main clauses in this section (each block above is a “main clause”) are connected with the conjunction δε. Apart from the last main clause, I’ve not translated the word. Each of these blocks is individual, but they do build one upon the other (particularly the first three). The nature of what δε is doing is needed in the Greek, but there is no easy way to translate the function into the English. The typical (and typically inaccurate) gloss of “but” doesn’t work because it is inherently adversative, and the use here is not adversative, it is developmental. Each of these clauses builds in a succession. Translations like “so” or “now” or something of that nature could work, but seem contrived and clunky.

Verse 22

Τὰς δὲ νεωτερικὰς ἐπιθυμίας φεῦγε] Note the imperative verb φεῦγε (“flee”) at the end of the clause, with the object fronted, perhaps something like: “Those ignorant, youthful urges? Run away [from them]!” The fronted object here is, according to Runge, a “Topical Frame”; it brings the topical scope of the clause into view first so one knows how to process the verb when it is encountered.

ἐπιθυμίας] Note that in many contexts this word has a negative connotation (e.g. “lust” or “sinful desires”), but that connotation — specifically the lustful or sinful side of it — is not innate in the meaning of the word. It can (and does) occur positively too. That is, context of occurrence adds that notion, the word itself is used in positive, negative, and neutral contexts. Here it tends toward the negative based on the context of the following command (flee youthful desires, pursue righteousness, faith, love, etc.).

νεωτερικὰς] NT hapax, see also $afen(IgnMag 3.1)

δίωκε δὲ δικαιοσύνην πίστιν ἀγάπην εἰρήνην] Here component order is inverted, instead of Object-Verb, it is Verb-Object. The conjunction δὲ is used for a developmental connection to the previous clause. They are rhetorically connected through the inversion of component order. The previous clause was an exhortation to avoid particular negative action; this clause is an exhortation to partake of particular positive action. The flee/pursue exhortation is used to similar effect in 1Ti 6.11; see also Mt 10.23 where the order is reversed.

μετὰ τῶν ἐπικαλουμένων τὸν κύριον] prepositional phrase, modifying the imperative verb δίωκε. This provides information on how to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. The object is a participle clause with the participle ἐπικαλουμένων functioning substantivally.

ἐκ καθαρᾶς καρδίας] another prepositional phrase, here modifying the participle of the previous clause, ἐπικαλουμένων. It’s not just those who call on the Lord, but those who call on the Lord “from” or “out of” a pure heart. On purity of heart, see also 1Ti 1.5.

Verse 23

τὰς δὲ μωρὰς καὶ ἀπαιδεύτους ζητήσεις παραιτοῦ] This clause, again, is ordered Object-Verb, and again the verb (παραιτοῦ) is imperative. This is a third exhortation, here Paul wants Timothy to reject “foolish and ignorant speculations”. After emphasizing the positive, Paul returns to make sure Timothy also understands what not to do. The “foolish and ignorant speculations” include anything that is contrary to Paul’s gospel. Anything that would prevent pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace with others.

εἰδὼς ὅτι γεννῶσιν μάχας] participial clause with subordinate clause, modifying the imperative verb in the main clause. This provides the reason for avoiding “foolish and empty speculations”, it is because such things are the source of further battles. To avoid them is to avoid the later battles.

Verse 24

δοῦλον δὲ κυρίου οὐ δεῖ μάχεσθαι] Here again the δὲ implies a logical connection to what precedes, but little more. The negator ου modifies the verb δεῖ (“it is necessary”) adverbially. μάχεσθαι (“to fight”) is an infinitive verb, it takes δοῦλον .. κυρίου as its accusative subject. Note the repetition of the semantic notion of “fighting” with the cognate μαχ* and the consistent position against such fighting.

ἀλλὰ ἤπιον εἶναι] εἶναι is another infinitive verb which has implicitly the same subject as the previous infinitive, though it is unstated. The conjunction ἀλλὰ notes a relationship between this infinitive clause and the previous one. The previous verb (“to fight”) and this verb+object (“to be gentle”) provide the contrast and correction. The servant of the Lord does not fight (as in physically fight) but is instead gentle in the approach he takes to correct the false teaching and doctrine he encounters.

πρὸς πάντας] prepositional phrase functioning adjectivally. This provides the range of whom Timothy is to “be gentle” toward (at least in his correction of false doctrine). He is to be gentle toward everyone while he corrects.

διδακτικόν, ἀνεξίκακον] additional groups in the object. These as well function as objects of the infinitive verb, providing a comprehensive opposite to fighting: instead responding by physically fighting, he is to respond with gentleness toward all, the ability to teach, and patience. Note especially BDAG’s gloss of ἀνεξίκακος: “pertaining to bearing evil without resentment”. The idea is for Timothy to bear the person with love and correct the false doctrine — not to simply end the relationship with the person who has succumbed/is succumbing to false doctrine.

Verse 25

ἐν πραΰτητι παιδεύοντα τοὺς ἀντιδιατιθεμένους] participle clause; with prepositional phrase modifying participle. Note the continuance of the semantic notion of “gentleness” from verse 24. Instruction and correction of those opposing isn’t a smackdown, it is done (as specified above) in gentleness and love. This doesn’t mean that one gives ground, but it does mean that one is not belligerent in the maintaining and outlining of the true doctrine.

μήποτε δώῃ αὐτοῖς ὁ θεὸς μετάνοιαν] Subordinate clause. “that God may perhaps give repentance to them”. On μήποτε as “perhaps”, see BDAG μήποτε 3bβ, which classifies usage with the subjunctive in indirect questions (such as we have here). While not punctuated in the Greek with a question mark, this could perhaps also be a rhetorical question: “might not God give them repentance [leading to the truth]?”

εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας] prepositional phrase, modifying the verb of the subordinate clause (δώῃ). The same prepositional phrase occurs in 1Ti 2.4; the function there is similar to here. The idea is that, though a gentle and patient approach, the mindset of the opponent can be changed. I think there is a bit of wordplay with the idea of repentance (μετάνοιαν, “changing the mind”) here, though the Christian idea of repentance also applies to some degree. The opponent must turn (repent) from the way of error and come to knowledge of the truth.

Verse 26

καὶ] joins the previous subordinate clause and the following subordinate clause (all of v. 26) together into one structure: “that God may give repentence and may come to their senses”

ἀνανήψωσιν] subjunctive verb, primary verb in the subordinate clause, “return to one’s senses”. NT hapax, but with adequate testimony in Philo (Leg II 60), Josephus (Ant 6.241; Wars 1.619) and Ignatius ($af(IgnSmyrn 9.1)). The Ignatius reference is most analogous to the instance here in 2Ti.

ἐκ τῆς τοῦ διαβόλου παγίδος] prepositional phrase, modifying the subjunctive verb. On “snare of the devil” see also 1Ti 3.7. By this langauge, realize, the opponents are actually presently trapped within “the snare of the devil”, and coming to their senses, repenting, and coming into knowledge of the truth will get the out.

ἐζωγρημένοι] participle clause (also containing the following two prepositional phrases), modifying the verb, explaining how and why the opponents ended up in the trap of the adversary. Occurs 2x in NT, here and also in Luke 5.10 where it is used of “catching” men (e.g., becoming fishers of men). Here the sense is of “catching alive”.

ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ] prepositional phrase, modifying the participle. “by him”, the referent being the devil/adversary. The opponents were captured alive by the adversary …

εἰς τὸ ἐκείνου θέλημα] … “to do his [the adversary’s] will”. Another prepositional phrase modifying the participle. θέλημα occurs 33x in the NT, 18 of those are as objects of prepositional phrases (as here). It occurs most commonly with δια (8x, usually “by the will …”, 5x in Pauline epistolary salutations, including the salutation to Second Timothy) and κατα (3x, “according to God’s will”). In Paul, outside of 1Co 7.37 and perhaps this instance, θέλημα as prepositional object always has to do with God’s will. There is some debate as to the referent of ἐκείνου here (does it refer to God or to Satan?). The plain referent (particularly if you just look at most English translations) seem to be devil/adversary; some ambiguity is present in the Greek, however. The pronoun ἐκεῖνος usually refers to a more distant referent (“that one” instead of “this one”). I’ve followed the traditional route (the same route as Marshall (768) and Knight (426)).

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