2 Timothy 2:16
But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase to more ungodliness.
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(16) But shun profane and vain babblings.But, in strong contrast to the conduct just urged, on the workman of God, do thou avoid (or, withdraw thyself from) vain babblings. The word rendered “shun” is a strong one, and signifies literally, to make a circuit so as to avoid; or, as Alford paraphrases it, “the meaning seems to come from a number of persons falling back from an object of fear or loathing, and standing at a distance round it.” The word is used in Titus 3:9. On the words “profane,” “vain-babblings,” see 1Timothy 6:20.

For they will increase unto more ungodliness.—Better translated, for they will advance unto . . . The tendency of these useless discussions and idle disputes is to lead men into vain and profitless speculations, which end too often—as in the case, cited below, of Hymenæus and Philetus—in the most fatal doctrinal error. The close connection between grave fundamental errors in doctrine and a lax and purely selfish life is constantly alluded to by St. Paul.

2 Timothy 2:16-18. But shun profane and vain babblings — See on 1 Timothy 1:4; for they will increase, &c. — Though the evil of some of them may not immediately appear, and they may seem trifling rather than mischievous, they will advance unto more impiety; for the persons who so babble, having been prevailed on by Satan to quit the right way of experimental and practical godliness, will proceed not only to neglect, but even to deny, the most essential articles of the Christian faith. And their word — Their doctrine; will eat as doth a canker — Will destroy the souls of men, as a gangrene destroys the body, spreading itself further and further till the whole is infected. Of whom — Of which sort of ungodly talkers; are Hymeneus and Philetus — The apostle mentions these two by name as empty babblers, whom the faithful were to resist, because their errors were of the most dangerous nature, as is evident from the account which the apostle gives of them in the next verse. Of Hymeneus, see on 1 Timothy 1:20; Philetus is mentioned nowhere else in Scripture. Probably these teachers denied that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, (see 1 John 4:2,) consequently they denied the reality both of his death and resurrection. Who concerning the truth have erred — Ηστοχησαν, have gone wide of the mark; have fallen into a most dangerous and destructive error, by their allegorical interpretations, explaining away one of the most fundamental doctrines of Christianity, and maintaining that the resurrection is past already — That is, that there is no other but a spiritual resurrection, from a death in sin to a life in righteousness, which consequently is already past with regard to all true Christians; and overthrow the faith of some — In a capital point, namely, concerning the resurrection of the body, and a future life of glory designed for it, as well as for the soul. By explaining the doctrine of the resurrection in a figurative sense, these false teachers probably endeavoured to recommend the gospel to the Greek philosophers, who considered the resurrection of the body not only as impossible in itself, but as a thing highly disadvantageous had it been possible.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.But shun profane and vain babblings, - see the notes at 1 Timothy 6:20.

For they will increase unto more ungodliness - Their tendency is to alienate the soul from God, and to lead to impiety. Such kinds of disputation are not merely a waste of time, they are productive of positive mischief. A man fond of contention in religious things is seldom one who has much love for the practical duties of piety, or any very deep sense of the distinction between right and wrong. You will not usually look for him in the place of prayer, nor can you expect his aid in the conversion of sinners, nor will you find that he has any very strict views of religious obligation.

16. shun—literally, "stand above," separate from, and superior to.

vain—opposed to "the truth" (2Ti 2:15).

babblings—with loud voice: opposed to the temperate "word" (Tit 3:9).

increase—Greek, advance"; literally, "strike forward": an image from pioneers cutting away all obstacles before an advancing army. They pretend progress; the only kind of progress they make is to a greater pitch of impiety.

more ungodliness—Greek, "a greater degree of impiety."

But shun profane and vain babblings; by these dishonourable terms the apostle defameth all impertinent discourses in discharge of the ministerial office, such as he had called fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, 1 Timothy 1:4; profane and old wives’ fables, 1 Timothy 4:7: here he calls them kenofwniav, empty, vain, and unprofitable discourses, which though possibly not profane in themselves, yet were profane as used in the discharge of the ministerial office, where nothing ought to be discoursed but the solid, useful truths of the gospel.

For they will increase unto more ungodliness; these, he saith, will issue at last in errors and ungodliness of life. But shun profane and vain babblings,.... The ministry of false teachers is mere babbling; a voice, and nothing else, as the man said of his nightingale; a sound of words, but no solid matter in them; great swelling words of vanity, like large bubbles of water, look big, and make a great noise, but have nothing in them; contain nothing but vain, empty, idle, and trifling stuff; what is unprofitable and unedifying, yea, what is profane, contrary to the nature and perfections of God, and not agreeable to the doctrine which is according to godliness; and being palmed upon the Holy Scriptures, is a profanation of them. And all such wicked and empty prate, and babbling, is to be shunned, avoided, and discouraged, refused, and rejected; and, as much as can be, a stop should be put to it, both by ministers and hearers of the word.

For they will increase unto more ungodliness meaning either that such babblings, if used and encouraged, will grow more and more profane and wicked; or the persons that use them, the unruly and vain talkers, will grow more daring, bold; and impudent, will wax worse and worse, and from one error will proceed to another, for such seldom stop; and having abused one passage of Scripture, will go on to attack another, and will not cease, till they have wrested the whole Scripture to their own destruction, and that of others.

{f} But shun profane and vain babblings: {10} for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

(f) Mark and watch, and see that they do not creep on further.

(10) He reveals the subtilty of Satan, who beginning with these principles, draws us by little and little to ungodliness through the means of that wicked and profane babbling, which gradually increases. And this he proves by the horrible example of those that taught that the resurrection was already past.

2 Timothy 2:16. Τὰς δὲ βεβήλους κενοφωνίας (comp. 1 Timothy 6:20) περιΐστασο] “avoid” (comp. Titus 3:9, synonymous with ἐκτρέπεσθαι, 1 Timothy 6:20); properly: “go out of the way.” Beza is wrong: cohibe, i. e. observa et velut obside, nempe ne in ecclesiam irrepant.

The reason for the exhortation follows in the next words: ἐπὶ πλεῖον γὰρ προκόψουσιν ἀσεβείας] προκόπτειν here is intransitive (comp. 1 Timothy 3:9; 1 Timothy 3:13), and ἀσεβείας is the genitive depending on ἐπὶ πλεῖον,[36] not the accusative, as if προκ. had here the transitive meaning “to further.” The subject is formed by the heretics whom the apostle has in mind, not the κενοφωνίαι, as ὁ λόγος αὐτῶν shows. Hence Luther’s translation is incorrect: “it (evil talking) helps much to ungodly character;” besides, it puts the present for the future. Bengel: Futurum, proprie; est enim praedictio, ut ἕξει, 2 Timothy 2:17; comp. 1 Timothy 3:3 ff., 1 Timothy 3:6. Hofmann wishes a distinction to be made between those who deal in βεβ. κενοφωνίαι and those to whose number Hymenaeus and Philetus belong; and according to him, the subject should be taken from the ὧν ἐστι κ.τ.λ., so as to mean the followers of these two heretics. We cannot, however, understand why Paul should not have included among the βεβ. κενοφωνίαις the heresy that the resurrection had already taken place, unless this expression be greatly weakened, as Hofmann indeed does, to favour his view of the heresy at Ephesus (see Introduction, § 4). In any case, it is a mistake to take the subject for προκόψουσιν only from what follows, since such subject does not present itself naturally; and there is least ground of all for supposing that it must be οἱ περὶ Ὑμέναιον καὶ Φιλητόν.

The γάρ, which refers only to the sentence immediately preceding, makes the increasing godlessness of the heretics the reason why Timothy should not meddle further with the κενοφωνίαι, but simply oppose to them the word of truth.

[36] In Diod. Sicul. there occurs: ἐπὶ πλεῖον κακίας προβαίνειν; see Bengel on the passage.2 Timothy 2:16. κενοφωνίας: See on 1 Timothy 6:20. Here, as Bengel suggests, κενο- is contrasted with ἀληθείας, φωνίας with λόγον.

περιίστασο: shun, devita, “Give them a wide berth” (Plummer), also in Titus 3:9. In these places περιίστασθαι has the same meaning as ἐκτρέπεσθαι, 1 Timothy 6:20. In fact Ell. cites from Lucian, Hermot. § 86, ἐκτραπήσομαι καὶ περιστήσομαι, where the two verbs are evidently used as indifferent alternatives. Where περιίστημι elsewhere occurs (N.T.), viz., John 11:42, Acts 25:7, it means “to stand around”.

ἐπὶ πλεῖον, κ.τ.λ.: Those who utter “babblings” (subject of προκόψουσιν) are not, as is sometimes supposed, merely negatively useless; they are positively and increasingly mischievous. In 2 Timothy 3:9, οὐ προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ πλεῖον, the situation is different. When a man’s ἄνοια has become manifest to all, he has lost his power to do mischief to others; on the other hand there is no limit to the deterioration of “evil men and impostors” in themselves, προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον (2 Timothy 3:13).

ἀσεβείας: genitive after ἐπὶ πλεῖον. The commentators compare Joseph. Bell. Jud. vi. 2, 3. προὔκοψαν εἰς τοσοῦτον παρανομίας. Charles thinks προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ κακῷ ἐν πλεονεξίᾳ, Test. of Twelve Patriarchs, Judah, 21:8, the source of this phrase; but it is merely a parallel.16. shun] The word is the same as in Titus 3:9 where reasons are given for rendering it avoid. The present tense here and in 2 Timothy 2:14 are all the more forcible for the aorists which come in between. ‘Be ever putting in remembrance’ ‘ever avoiding.’ The article before ‘profane babblings’ points to a well-known theme, ‘these false teachers and their talk.’ ‘Let your teachers and yourself handle truth aright; but the false teachers and their profane babblings avoid.’ Hence there is no real ambiguity about the subject to the next clause; though R.V. leaves us in doubt. ‘For these false teachers will only proceed further in ungodliness.’ The pronoun in the next verse refers back to them.

profane and vain babblings] Profane babblings; ‘babblings’ is sufficient rendering of the word without the addition of ‘vain’: the word only occurs here and 1 Timothy 6:20; see note there.

they will increase unto more ungodliness] Lit. they will proceed further on. The verb corresponds to the word for ‘progress’ in 1 Timothy 4:15 where its usage is noted. As Bp Ellicott points out, the future shews that the error of the false teachers had not yet ‘appeared in its most developed state.’2 Timothy 2:16. Τὰς δὲ) So 2 Timothy 2:21-22, by Anaphora [The frequent repetition of words at beginnings. Append.]. Therefore profane vain babblings, which maintain great errors, differ from questions (1 Timothy 6:4) about things not worth a straw; the former are pernicious, the latter useless (unprofitable), Titus 3:9.—περιΐστασο) The same word, ibid.: in which περὶ elegantly means the same thing, as in περιγίνομαι; but περιγίνομαι [I am over and above, I overcome, I get the better of another] denotes the act of separating and overcoming; περιΐσταμαι, the state. Timothy had never entangled himself; therefore Paul exhorts him to continued stedfastness: remain thou separate.—ἐπὶ πλεῖον ἀσεβείας) to a greater degree of ungodliness. So ἐπὶ πλεῖον κακιας προβαίνειν, to advance more in vice.—Diodorus Siculus quoted by Pricæus.—προκόψουσι, they shall go forward) namely, those who give utterance to such vain babblings. To this subject (‘those’) we also are to refer the word their, 2 Timothy 2:17. There is in it a Mimesis,[8] as afterwards in the phrase ΝΟΜῊΝ ἝΞΕΙ, will have pasture, will eat. These men think they are going forward in sacred things. The future is used in its strict sense; for it is a prediction, as in will have pasture (will eat) in the next verse; comp. 2 Timothy 3:1.

[8] An allusion to the language which those seducers used. They no doubt flattered themselves they were going forward (προκόπτειν), and had spiritual pasturage or eating (νομὴν ἕξει). To this Paul replies by allusion, using the words in a bad sense.—ED.Verse 16. - Profane for profane and vain, A.V.; proceed further in ungodliness for increase unto more ungodliness, A.V. Shun (περιι'´στασο, as in Titus 3:9); literally, step out of the way of, or stand away from - an unusual use of the word, found also in Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 4. 6:12. Profane babblings (see 1 Timothy 4:7; 1 Timothy 6:20). They will proceed (προκόψουσιν); see note on προκοπή in 1 Timothy 4:15. Further in ungodliness (ἐπὶ πεῖον ἀσεβείας); surely better rendered in the A.V. to more ungodliness. It may be questioned whether "they" refers to the babblings or to the false teachers. It makes very good sense to say, "Avoid these profane babblings, for they won't stop there - they will grow into open impiety and blasphemy." But ver. 17, as Alford observes, is in favour of the "teachers" being the subject of "will proceed;" but it is not conclusive. If a full stop be put after "ungodliness," as in the A.V., ver. 17 comes in quite naturally with the further statement that "their word will eat as doth a gangrene." Shun (περιίστασο)

Po. In Pastorals, here and Titus 3:9. Originally, to place round; to stand round. In the middle voice, to turn one's self about, as for the purpose of avoiding something: hence, avoid, shun. Often in Class., but in this sense only in later Greek.

Profane and vain babblings (βεβήλους κενοφωνίας)

For profane, see on 1 Timothy 1:9. Vain is superfluous, being implied in babblings. For babblings, see on 1 Timothy 6:20. Babble is a word of early origin, an imitative word, formed on the efforts of a young child to speak, and having its counterparts in many languages. It appears very early in English, as in Piers Plowman:

"And so I bablede on my bedes."

Vis. 2487.


"Who will open himselfe to a blab or a babler?"

Ess. vi


"Leave thy vain bibble babble."

Twelfth N. iv. 2.

They will increase (προκόψουσιν)

See on Romans 13:12, and see on Galatians 1:14.


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