|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:14-21 Those disposed to strive, commonly strive about matters of small moment. But strifes of words destroy the things of God. The apostle mentions some who erred. They did not deny the resurrection, but they corrupted that true doctrine. Yet nothing can be so foolish or erroneous, but it will overturn the temporary faith of some professors. This foundation has two writings on it. One speaks our comfort. None can overthrow the faith of any whom God hath chosen. The other speaks our duty. Those who would have the comfort of the privilege, must make conscience of the duty Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, Tit 2:14. The church of Christ is like a dwelling: some furniture is of great value; some of smaller value, and put to meaner uses. Some professors of religion are like vessels of wood and earth. When the vessels of dishonour are cast out to be destroyed, the others will be filled with all the fulness of God. We must see to it that we are holy vessels. Every one in the church whom God approves, will be devoted to his Master's service, and thus fitted for his use.
Verse 17. - Gangrene for canker, A.V. Their word; as opposed to "the Word of truth" in ver. 15. Will eat (νομὴν ἕξει); i.e. spread, like a gangrene, which gradually enlarges its area, corrupting the flesh that was sound before. So these heretical opinions spread in the body of the Church which is affected by them. Νομή is literally "pasture" (John 10:9), "grazing of flocks," and hence is applied to fire (Polybius), which as it were feeds upon all around it, and, in medical language (Hippocrates), to sores and gangrenes, which grow larger and depasture the flesh. Of whom; of the number of those pointed at in the phrase, "their word." Hymenaeus; probably the same person as is mentioned as a blasphemer in 1 Timothy 1:20. Philetus. Nothing is known of him.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And their word will eat as doth a cancer,.... Or "gangrene", which gnaws and feeds upon the flesh, inflames and mortifies as it goes, and spreads swiftly, and endangers the whole body; and is therefore to be speedily taken notice of, and stopped. It is better rendered "gangrene", as in the marginal reading, than "cancer".
"The word "gangrene" is Greek (g), and is derived by some authors from the Paphlagonian "gangra", a goat; it being the character of a goat to browse the grass all around without shifting. It is more correct, perhaps, to derive it from the Greek word "manduco", "consumo", I eat, I consume. The "gangrene" is a disease in the flesh of the part which it corrupts, consumes, and turns black, spreading and seizing itself of the adjoining parts, and is rarely cured without amputation. By the microscope, a gangrene has been discovered to contain an infinite number of little worms engendered in the morbid flesh; and which continually producing new broods, they swarm, and overrun the adjacent parts: if the gangrene proceed to an utter sphacelation (or mortification), and be seated in any of the limbs, or extreme parts, recourse must be had to the operation of amputation''
And so the errors and heresies of false teachers worm and spread, and feed upon the souls of men, and eat up the vitals of religion, or what seemed to be such, and even destroy the very form of godliness; and bring destruction and death, wherever they come; and when they get into Christian churches, threaten the ruin of them; and therefore are to be opposed in time, and those infected with them to be cut off.
Of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; these were some of the principal among the false teachers, the chief authors and spreaders of error and heresy: the former of these is mentioned before in 1 Timothy 1:20 along with Alexander, as guilty of blasphemy, and as delivered up to Satan for it. Philetus is a Greek name as well as the other, though it is sometimes found in Roman inscriptions (h): it is very likely that these were both in Asia, and probably in Ephesus, or near to it, since the apostle mentions them by name to Timothy, that he might beware of them.
(g) See Chambers's Cyclopedia in the word "Gangrene". (h) Vid. Kirchman. de Funer. Roman. l. 3. c. 10. p. 390.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. will eat—literally, "will have pasture." The consuming progress of mortification is the image. They pretend to give rich spiritual pasture to their disciples: the only pasture is that of a spiritual cancer feeding on their vitals.
canker—a "cancer" or "gangrene."
Hymenaeus—(See on 1Ti 1:20). After his excommunication he seems to have been readmitted into the Church and again to have troubled it.
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