May 19 – 2 Timothy 2:14-26
General notice, the sermon was on 2:20-3:9, but we’re looking at 2:14-26. It’s a slightly different focus, but it’ll cover less ground (in a good way).
At 2:14 Paul transitions in his letter from focusing on Timothy to instructing Timothy on how to pastor his church well. It seems as though some quarrels had sprung up in the church, including some false teaching on the resurrection (more on that in a moment), so Paul is advising Timothy on how to navigate this conflict without falling into sin himself. Don’t miss that. Paul is far more concerned with Timothy’s conduct through the problem than his control over it. We typical reverse those priorities when we encounter our own conflict.
Real quick, regarding the false teachers mentioned in 17, we actually don’t know a ton about what they were teaching. It seems as though they were saying that, at their point in history, believers were already living in the resurrected life. Whether they thought they had already experienced a bodily glorification, would live forever, or that there would be no afterlife/end-times resurrection, we aren’t sure. Either way, they were teaching something that wasn’t true and wasn’t in line with Jesus’ direct teaching on the resurrection.
Now, Paul uses a metaphor about household vessels at the heart of the passage, and it’s key to understanding his advice to Timothy here. Prior to steel and plastic, people used clay, wood, and other materials for all their storage and dining needs. Vessels of gold and silver would’ve been used by royalty or in the Temple in Jerusalem. Alternatively, poor people used clay pots and wooden containers for those things. Also, in a time period when cities didn’t have running water, a clay pot in the corner took the place of a toilet. So some containers were honorable, as in fitting for ceremonial or regal occasions, and some weren’t. We still have examples of this today. Imagine if a celebrity or senator came over to your house for dinner. Would you feed them on paper plates?
So in Paul’s metaphor, we’re the vessels, the containers, and we belong to God (which should prompt us to ask, if we’re vessels, what’s inside us?). That tells us a few things about ourselves: 1. we are God’s possessions and God gets to decide how to use us (Romans 9:20), 2. we’re intended for an honorable role and responsibility, and 3. we have some agency over whether or not we are prepared to fulfill that role. We could keep ourselves ready for honorable service to the Lord (think golden bowl ready for the royal banquet) or we could sully ourselves with dishonorable habits or practices and not be ready for service. So then, striving for holiness isn’t about goody-goody rule keeping; it’s about becoming what God made you to be.
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read 2 Timothy 2:14-26 for us?
• Can someone summarize what Paul is telling Timothy here?
• What does Paul say about the quarrels that had risen up in Timothy’s church?
• What can the metaphor of the vessels tell us about the the way we and God relate to one another?
• Look at verse 21. What does Paul say there about the reason for holiness?
• What are some successes you’ve had in striving for holiness? What are some areas you really struggle in striving for holiness?
• Looking at verse 22, what ways do you need others to help you pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace?