2 Timothy 2:25
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
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(25) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.—By “those that oppose themselves,” St. Paul alludes scarcely so much to those leading teachers of false doctrine as to those led away by them. In Titus 3:10 we read how these pronounced heretics—no doubt the teachers and leaders of the school—were, after a first and second admonition, to be shunned, were to be left to themselves. These, however, were evidently to be dealt with in a different manner. Their treatment was to be a gentle one. Nothing is here said respecting a first and second admonition only; no hint is given that these are to be shunned. They are clearly not the same as those referred to in Titus 3:10, or above in 2Timothy 2:21 of this chapter, where, again, separation is definitely urged.

If God peradventure will give them repentance.—The Greek original here also carries out what was said in the Note on the last clause, and may be rendered literally, if perchance at any time God might grant to them . . . This suggests a hope at least that at some time or other God’s grace would work in these “opposing” members of the congregation a change. The “repentance” here signifies an abandonment on the part of those erring Christians of that wrong course on which they had entered, and a return to the true Church of God and to the full knowledge of the gospel truth.

2:22-26 The more we follow that which is good, the faster and the further we shall flee from that which is evil. The keeping up the communion of saints, will take us from fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness. See how often the apostle cautions against disputes in religion; which surely shows that religion consists more in believing and practising what God requires, than in subtle disputes. Those are unapt to teach, who are apt to strive, and are fierce and froward. Teaching, not persecution, is the Scripture method of dealing with those in error. The same God who gives the discovery of the truth, by his grace brings us to acknowledge it, otherwise our hearts would continue to rebel against it. There is no peradventure, in respect of God's pardoning those who do repent; but we cannot tell that he will give repentance to those who oppose his will. Sinners are taken in a snare, and in the worst snare, because it is the devil's; they are slaves to him. And if any long for deliverance, let them remember they never can escape, except by repentance, which is the gift of God; and we must ask it of him by earnest, persevering prayer.In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves - That is, those who embrace error, and array themselves against the truth. We are not to become angry with such persons, and denounce them at once as heretics. We are not to hold them up to public reproach and scorn; but we are to set about the business of patiently "instructing them." Their grand difficulty, it is supposed in this direction, is, that they are ignorant of the truth. Our business with them is, "calmly to show them what the truth is." If they are angry, we are not to be. If they oppose the truth, we are still calmly to state it to them. If they are slow to see it, we are not to become weary or impatient. Nor, if they do not embrace it at all, are we to become angry with them, and denounce them. We may pity them, but we need not use hard words. This is the apostolic precept about the way of treating those who are in error; and can any one fail to see its beauty and propriety? Let it be remembered, also, that this is not only beautiful and proper in itself; it is the wiseST course, if we would bring others over to our opinions. You are not likely to convince a man that you are right, and that he is wrong, if you first make him angry; nor are you very likely to do it, if you enter into harsh contention. You then put him on his guard; you make him a party, and, from self-respect, or pride, or anger, he will endeavor to defend his own opinions, and will not yield to yours. "Meekness" and "gentleness" are the very best things, if you wish to convince another that he is wrong. With his heart first, and then modestly and kindly show him "what the truth is," in as few words, and with as unassuming a spirit, as possible, "and you have him."

If God peradventure will give them repentance, ... - Give them such a view of the error which they have embraced, and such regret for having embraced it, that they shall be willing to admit the truth. After all our care in teaching others the truth, our only dependence is on God for its success. We cannot be absolutely certain that they will see their error; we cannot rely certainly on any power which argument will have; we can only hope that God may show them their error, and enable them to see and embrace the truth; compare Acts 11:18. The word rendered "peradventure," here - μήποτε mēpote - means, usually, "not even, never;" and then, "that never, lest ever" - the same as "lest perhaps." It is translated "lest at any time," Matthew 4:6; Matthew 5:25; Matthew 13:15; Mark 4:12; Luke 21:34; "lest," Matt, Luke 7:6; Luke 13:29; Luke 15:32; "et al.: lest haply," Luke 14:12; Acts 5:39. It does not imply that there was any CHance about what is said, but rather that there was uncertainty in the mind of the speaker, and that there was need of caution LesT something should occur; or, that anything was done, or should be done, to prevent something from happening.

It is not used elsewhere in the New Testament in the sense which our translators, and all the critics, so far as I have examined, give to it here - as implying A hope that God would give them repentance, etc. But I may be permitted to suggest another interpretation, which will accord with the uniform meaning of the word in the New Testament, and which will refer the matter to those who had embraced the error, and not to God. It is this: "In meekness instructing 'those that oppose themselves' (ἀντιδιατιθεμένους antidiatithemenous) 'lest' - μήποτε mēpote - God should give them repentance, and they should recover themselves out of the snare of the devil," etc. That is, they put themselves in this posture of opposition so that they shall not be brought to repentance, and recover themselves. They do it with a precautionary view that they may not be thus brought to repentance, and be recovered to God. They take this position of opposition to the truth, intending not to be converted; and this is the reason why they are not converted.

25. instructing—Greek, "disciplining," instructing with correction, which those who deal in "uninstructive" or "undisciplined questions" need (see on [2500]2Ti 2:23; [2501]1Ti 1:20).

those that oppose themselves—Greek, "oppositely affected"; those of a different opinion.

if … peradventure—Greek, "if at any time."

repentance—which they need as antecedent to the full knowledge (so the Greek for 'acknowledgment') of the truth" (1Ti 2:4), their minds being corrupted (2Ti 3:8), and their lives immoral. The cause of the spiritual ignorance which prompts such "questions" is moral, having its seat in the will, not in the intellect (Joh 7:17). Therefore repentance is their first need. That, not man, but God alone can "give" (Ac 5:31).

In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; without passion better informing such as have sucked in an error, not reviling them, but gently instructing them, and labouring to convince them of their mistake; for all those who for a time may oppose the truth, are not such as never repent, nor do it out of malice or hatred, they may do it out of ignorance and weakness.

If God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and God may give them a power, and a heart to repent, and to acknowledge that truth, which they at present oppose; and although this must be God’s work, yet he doth it by ministers as his means and instruments, who are to use probable means in order to it; such are not railing and reviling, but meek instructions, and a kind and gentle behaviour to them. A foul-mouthed minister is seldom an instrument to cleanse another’s heart. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves,.... To the truth; resist it and deny it; or contradict some other tenets and principles of theirs, or the Scriptures, which they themselves allowed to be the word of God, and the rule of faith and practice, and so are self-convinced and self-condemned. These are to be instructed, being ignorant, and in a tender and gentle manner, though very perverse and obstinate.

If God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth: repentance here designs a repentance of errors in principle, a change of mind upon conviction, and such as issues in a free and ingenuous confession, and acknowledgment of the truth before opposed; and such a repentance is the gift of God: it is he that opens the eyes of the understanding, and works conviction in the mind, and leads into all truth, as it is in Jesus; and induces men to repent of their errors, confess their mistakes, and own the truth; even as repentance of evil practices is not owing to the power of men, nor to the bare influence of means, but to the efficacious grace of God, it being a grant from him. And though this is not certain, that God will give repentance to such contradictors and blasphemers of his Gospel; yet as it is his will, that all his chosen ones should come to repentance, and that some of all sorts should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth; and seeing these things have been brought about under and by the ministry of the word, it is an encouragement to the ministers of the Gospel to continue their instructions in the manner here directed.

In meekness instructing those that {k} oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

(k) He means those who do not yet see the truth.

2 Timothy 2:25. τοὺς ἀντιδιατιθεμένους: They who err from right thinking are to be dealt with as tenderly and considerately as they who err from right living. Cf. Galatians 6:1, καταρτίζετε τὸν τοιοῦτον ἐν πνεύματι πραΰτητος. See also chap. 2 Timothy 4:2, and reff. Field takes ἀντιδιατίθεσθαι as equivalent to ἐναντίως διατίθεσθαι, “to be contrariwise or adversely affected”. Similarly Ambrosiaster, eos qui diversa sentiunt. Field notes that “the only other example of the compound verb is to be found in Longinus περὶ ὕψους, xvii. 1”. The A.V. and R.V. take the word here as middle, them that oppose themselves, eos qui resistunt [veritati] (Vulg.). von Soden finds in this word the key to the meaning of ἀντιθέσεις, 1 Timothy 6:20.

μήποτε (not elsewhere in Paul) = εἴποτε.

δώῃ: The subjunctive seems a syntactical necessity. See J. H. Moulton, Grammar, vol. i. pp. 55, 193, 194, Blass, Grammar, p. 213. On the other hand, W. H. text, and Winer-Moulton, Grammar, p. 374, read δῴη, optative.

μετάνοιαν: It is certainly implied that false theories in religion are not unconnected with moral obliquity and faulty practice. See Titus 1:15-16; Titus 3:11.25. in meekness instructing] Meekness, gentleness of heart, the feeling as separate from the demeanour: still more clearly brought out by the use of the compound word 1 Timothy 6:11. The corresponding adjective is used by ‘the Lord’ Himself of Himself, ‘I am meek and lowly in heart,’ Matthew 11:29. See note on Titus 3:2. A very interesting passage where it occurs is Galatians 5:22, where Bp Lightfoot divides the nine fruits of the Spirit into three sets of three, and shews how each of the first two triads is arranged in an ascending scale, (1) love, joy, peace, (2) patient endurance, kindly feeling, active beneficence. May not the third triad be similarly arranged thus, (3) a childlike trust, a woman’s meekness, a man’s self-mastery?

instructing] The word is explained 1 Timothy 1:20 and Titus 2:12; in all but two of the thirteen places where it occurs in N.T. the sense of ‘correction,’ ‘discipline’ is clear; and in those two, Acts 7:22; Acts 22:3, the instruction is that of school or college, and ‘schooled’ will best express it. So here ‘correcting,’ bringing under discipline.

those that oppose themselves] Lit. ‘that are becoming contentiously disposed’; the usage of the middle is disponere aliquid, not disponere se; hence ‘oppose themselves’ must not be taken as at any rate a literal version; the word corresponding to the perfect of this verb is the well known ‘adversaries’ 1 Corinthians 16:9, used also 1 Timothy 5:14.

if God peradventure] Lit. ‘if God might perchance at some time,’ Lat. ‘si forte aliquando.’

will give] The optative not subjunctive mood has the best authority. The exact force then is ‘You must discipline them, in case God may give them repentance, as we wish and pray.’

repentance] The word occurs only four times in St Paul’s Epistles, though frequent in St Luke’s Gospel and Acts. Cf. Trench, N. T. Syn. p. 247, who defines it as ‘a change of mind, taking a wiser view of the past, a regret for the ill done in that past, and out of all this a change for the better.’

to the acknowledging of the truth] Better, unto the full knowledge; ‘unto’ expresses the state into which repentance is designed to bring them, as Acts 11:18, ‘hath God granted repentance unto life’; ‘full knowledge’ as in 1 Timothy 2:4, where see note.2 Timothy 2:25. Μήποτε) μὴ interrogative: with this expectation, if at any time, etc.—δῷ αὐτοῖς ό Θεὸς, God may give to them) For it does not belong to human power. A motive for patience. [He who attempts to use violence, so much the less accomplishes aught: nor, yet, should he give way to sluggishness.—V. g.]—μετάνοιαν, repentance) This is antecedent to knowledge or acknowledgment.—εἰς, to or for) So εἰς in the following verse.Verse 25. - Correcting them for instructing those, A.V.; peradventure God for God peradventure, A.V.; may for will, A.V.; unto the knowledge for to the acknowledging, A.V. Correcting (παιδεύοντα), παιδεύειν means properly to "educate," "bring up," or "train" a child. Hence sometimes the idea of teaching predominates, sometimes that of correcting or chastising. Here the context shows that the idea of teaching is pre-dominant - partly because the word suggests something contrary to the ἀπαίδευτοι ζητήσεις of ver. 23, and partly because the end of this παιδεία is to bring them to the knowledge of God's truth. The A.V. "instructing" is therefore the right word here. Them that oppose themselves (τοὺς ἀντιδιατιθέμενους); only here in the New Testament or the LXX., or in classical Greek. Literally, those who arrange or set themselves in opposition; or, in one word, "opponents," referring, no doubt, chiefly to such ἀντιλέγοντες as are mentioned in the very similar passage, Titus 1:9 (see too Titus 2:8). If peradventure (μήποτε). "Μήποτε, in later Greek, loses its aversative meaning ('lest at any time'), and is almost equivalent to εἴποτε (Alford, in loc.) - equivalent to "in case God should," etc. Repentance (μετανοία); such a change of mind as shall lead them to embrace the truth. Knowledge (ἐπίγνωσις); almost invariably used of the knowledge of God or of God's truth (ch. 3:7; Romans 1:28; Ephesians 1:17; Ephesians 4:13; Colossians 1:9, 10; Colossians 3:10; Titus 1:1; Hebrews 10:26, etc.). The truth; that truth which before they set themselves to oppose, disputing against it and resisting it. The servant of the Lord must never despair of any one, never throw an additional obstacle in any one's way by roughness or harsh speech, and never allow unkind feelings to be roused in his own breast by the perverseness or unreasonableness of them that oppose themselves to him. In meekness (ἐν πραὺτητι)

A Pauline word, only here in Pastorals, but comp. πραυπαθία, 1 Timothy 6:11 (note). Const. with instructing.

Instructing (παιδεύοντα)

See on 1 Timothy 1:20. Better, correcting.

Those that oppose themselves (τοὺς ἀντιδιατιθέμενους)

N.T. olxx. Class. only late Greek. Themselves is wrong. The meaning is, those who oppose the servant of the Lord; Who carry on the ἀντιθέσεις oppositions (1 Timothy 6:20); equals gainsayers (ἀντιλέγοντες Titus 1:9). Paul's word is ἀντίκεισθαι to oppose: see 1 Corinthians 16:9; Galatians 5:17; Philippians 1:28; 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

Repentance (μετάνοιαν)

Only here in Pastorals. See on repent Matthew 3:2.

To the acknowledging of the truth (εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας)

More correctly, the knowledge. The formula Pasto. See 1 Timothy 2:4 (note); 2 Timothy 3:7. For εἰς unto after μετάνοια repentance, see Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Luke 24:47; Acts 11:18; Acts 20:21; 2 Corinthians 7:10.

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