Online Bible Commentary
2 Timothy 2:14 Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness." (NIV)
The Apostle Paul is writing to Timothy, who is helping at the church in Ephesus. False Teaching has infiltrated the church and this letter is the second Paul has sent in an effort to remedy the situation. In the previous passage, Paul has reminded Timothy of the eternal life and eternal rewards awaiting those who stay true to the Gospel. He now urges Timothy to remind those in the church of this, including the false teachers (v. 14a).
The church is to be warned “before God against quarreling about words” (v. 14b). The literal Greek for this phrase is “solemnly testifying before the Lord, not to dispute about words for nothing useful.” The warning is that we are being watched by God, and that we are not to cause confusion in the church by resorting to “godless chatter”, false teaching. When it comes to the Bible, words are important. We are not to twist the meaning of words to prove our own agenda. This is not “useful”. It distorts the Gospel instead of supporting the Gospel. It leads others astray. “It is of no value, and only ruins those who listen” (v. 14c).
Paul encourages Timothy to do his best to stay true to the Gospel, so that he will not “be ashamed” by falling into false teaching himself (v. 15). He is to avoid false teaching, “godless chatter”, because errors and lies lead to ungodliness (v. 16). False Teaching is like “gangrene” (v. 17a). It will continue to spread unless it is cut out. Hymenaeus and Philetus are two of the false teachers (v. 17b). Hymenaeus has already been excommunicated from the church, but somehow he continues to hang around, and people continue to listen to him.
These false teachers are described as those “who have wandered away from the truth” (v. 18a). They have destroyed the faith of some in the church by teaching a different resurrection. They are teaching that “the resurrection has already taken place” (v. 18b) This is not explained here, and is open to speculation, which is not useful.
Paul summarizes this passage with the phrase “Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm” (v. 19a). Even though some have fallen away from the truth of the Gospel, the Gospel will always stand. God is the “solid foundation”. If He sends out his word, nothing can hinder it. God knows who belongs to Him (v. 19b). The activity of the false teachers can not change this. Those who are known by God “must turn away from wickedness” (v. 19c).
So, even though we are known by God, meaning we are Christians, we still must turn away from wickedness. False teaching in the church will always be with us in one form or another. It is the duty of every Christian to be so knowledgeable of the Bible that they are able to discern false teaching.
But Christians, as a whole are not knowledgeable of the Bible. This is a huge problem in the church. This is how Christians get recruited by cults, such as the LDS church and Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is how Christians side with wickedness in the culture, because they do not know better.
They do not know what the Bible teaches, so they are vulnerable to being swayed by evil. We particularly see this happening with young Christians. If you attach the word “love” to any movement they automatically think it must be something good. After all, God is love and so God must approve of that movement. Not so.
Those who have no knowledge of the Bible, have no discernment. They do not know what is evil in the eyes of the Lord. They do not know what is sin. And since they do not know what is sin, they are vulnerable to sin themselves. Christians “must turn away from wickedness”. We must turn away, from sin. “He knows those who are His”, and He is watching.