2 Timothy 2:18
Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
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(18) Who concerning the truth have erred.—Or, have erred, or, more literally, have missed their aim. (See Note on 1Timothy 6:21.)

The resurrection of the body, grounded upon the Lord’s own words (John 5:28-29), was one of the Articles of the Christian faith upon which St. Paul especially loved to dwell. (See, for instance, his words before Felix—Acts 24:15.) With this “resurrection of the body” St. Paul, prompted by the Holy Ghost, taught men that the future state of rewards and punishments was intimately bound up; the soul will be clothed with a body of glory or with a body of shame, according to the deeds done in the flesh. This doctrine appears, in very early times, to have been questioned by some in the Christian community. Then, as now, was the thought repugnant to the shrinking soul of man,—that the body in which he then lived and sinned would rise again.

Elaborated, but still scarcely disguised, the same denial of a bodily resurrection was a characteristic of the more important of the widely-spread Gnostic systems of the second and third centuries.

These early Christian followers of men like Hymenæus and Philetus had much in common with the ascetic Jewish sects of Essenes and Therapeutæ, and especially with the famous Sadducean school, which attracted then so many cultured and wealthy Jews. They opposed, to use Van Oosterzee’s words, “their own sickly idealism to St. Paul’s strong and healthy realism.” Death and resurrection, with these early opponents of St. Paul, were terms which had only a spiritual meaning and application. As Waterland puts it, “They allegorised away the doctrine, and turned all into figures and metaphors.”

Another consideration must not be lost sight of when we are considering the reasons for St. Paul’s fiery indignation with this unhappy school of dreamers. In attacking, with their thinly-veiled scepticism, the great doctrine of the resurrection of the body, in pushing aside the glorious hope, they touched with their impious hands the corner-stone of all Christian belief—the resurrection in the body of the Redeemer. This Resurrection was indeed past already.

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.Who concerning the truth have erred - To what extent they had erred is unknown. Paul mentions only one point - that pertaining to the resurrection; but says that this was like a gangrene. It would certainly, unless checked, destroy all the other doctrines of religion. No man can safely hold a single error, any more than he can safely have one part of his body in a state of mortification.

Saying that the resurrection is past already - It is not known in what form they held this opinion. It may have been, as Augustine supposes, that they taught that there was no resurrection but that which occurs in the soul when it is recovered from the death of sin, and made to live anew. Or it may be that they held that those who had died had experienced all the resurrection which they ever would, by passing into another state, and receiving at death a spiritual body fitted to their mode of being in the heavenly world. Whatever was the form of the opinion, the apostle regarded it as a most dangerous error, for just views of the resurrection undoubtedly lie at the foundation of correct apprehensions of the Christian system; compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 15:12-19.

And overthrow the faith of some - That is, on this point, and as would appear on all the correlative subjects of Christian belief; compare 1 Timothy 1:19-20.

18. erred—Greek, "missed the aim" (see 1Ti 6:21).

is past already—has already taken place. The beginnings of the subsequent Gnostic heresy already existed. They "wrested" (2Pe 3:16) Paul's own words (Ro 6:4; Eph 2:6; Col 2:12) "to their own destruction," as though the resurrection was merely the spiritual raising of souls from the death of sin. Compare 1Co 15:12, where he shows all our hopes of future glory rest on the literal reality of the resurrection. To believe it past (as the Seleucians or Hermians did, according to Augustine [Epistles, 119.55, To Januarius, 4]), is to deny it in its true sense.

overthrow—trying to subvert "the foundation" on which alone faith can rest secure (2Ti 2:19; compare Tit 1:11).

Who concerning the truth have erred; these two he saith had already erred as to the doctrine of faith, giving heed to profane and vain babblings.

Saying that the resurrection is past already; their particular error was in the business of the resurrection, which they said was past. That there shall be no resurrection is a very pleasing doctrine to men that have lived sensual lives; those whose lives have been nothing but eating and drinking, do very unwillingly think of dying, but seeing they cannot avoid that, they would gladly there should be no resurrection: so that it was no wonder if such an error as this did spread and mortify like a gangrene. Upon what pretence these men denied the resurrection, we are neither told in holy writ, nor with any certainty by any other authors. Some say, that they held that it was past in the resurrection of Christ, and those mentioned Matthew 27:52. Others think they confounded the resurrection with regeneration, and glorification, which they allowed only as to the souls of believers. Others say they maintained no other resurrection than what men have in the procreation of children. Others, that they denied any resurrection but that in baptism. The resurrection of the body was denied by the Sadducees, by these in Paul’s time, and afterwards by those that followed, Marcion, Basilides, Valentinus and Apelles, and others. Some in our times also have trodden in their steps, and are still treading (unless they think God will be more kind to those infinite numbers of heathens in the country of the Great Mogul than to Christians; for as to them, they tell us they cannot believe any such thing). Two sorts of men have been guilty of this:

1. The philosophers of the world, that think they must be able with their reason to span all articles of faith.

2. Men of sensual and sottish lives, who having lived like beasts, are willing to believe they shall also die like brutes.

And overthrow the faith of some; those who are tainted with this error do both themselves deny the faith, divers principal articles of which depend upon it, such as the resurrection of Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:1-58, and eternal life, &c., and also subvert the faith of others; for whoso can persuade another that there shall be no resurrection, makes him an infidel. Such heretics therefore were never endured to keep any station in the Christian church, it being always judged reasonable, that those who were turned infidels should be turned out of the flock of Christ to their proper herd.

Who concerning the truth have erred,.... That is, the two persons just mentioned; they fell from the truth, wandered and departed from it; they did not keep to the Scriptures of truth, but deviated from them; they missed that mark, and went astray into gross errors and mistakes; rejected the Gospel, the word of truth, in general, and particularly in

saying, that the resurrection is past already; and no other is to be expected; or that there was no future resurrection of the dead: their error was, as some think, that there is no other resurrection than that of parents in their children, who, though they die, live in their posterity; or than the resurrection of Christ, and of the saints, that rose at the same time; or rather, that there is no other resurrection than the spiritual one, or regeneration, which is a quickening of dead sinners, or the resurrection of them from the death of sin, to a life of grace; which seems to be the truest account of their principle, seeing this is what has been received and propagated by others since; though some have thought that they gave into the Palingenesia of the Pythagoreans, who supposed that when men die, their souls go into other bodies; and that these men imagined, that this is all the resurrection that will be: and others have been of opinion, that their notion was, that whereas the deliverance of the Jews out of the Babylonish captivity is signified by a resurrection of them, in Ezekiel 37:1 that this is the resurrection they meant was past, and no other to be looked for; but that which has been fixed upon seems to be the truest account:

and overthrow the faith of some; the Ethiopic version reads, "of many"; that is, of nominal professors of religion; not of true believers, for true faith cannot be overthrown. Hence it follows,

Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
2 Timothy 2:18. More precise description of the heretics, in the first place generally, as men who “have erred in regard to the truth” (de Wette).

περὶ τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἠστόχησαν] see 1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 6:21. The chief point in their heresy is given thus: λέγοντες τὴν ἀνάστασιν ἤδη γεγονέναι.

Both Irenaeus and Tertullian mention Gnostics, who denied the resurrection in its literal sense.[37] There is no ground for Baur’s assertion, that there is allusion here to Marcion. The passage in 1 Corinthians 15:12 proves that the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead had even in the apostolic age become a stumbling-block to many in the church.

The denial of these heretics was closely related to views which made a false contrast between flesh and spirit.

They had already exercised an injurious influence on others, as the next words declare: καὶ ἀνατρέπουσι τὴν τινῶν πίστιν] not: “whereby they make many err in their persuasion;” πίστιν is the Christian faith which includes the certainty of the future resurrection, and ἀνατρέπειν (see Titus 1:11) means “evertere, destroy.”

[37] Comp. Tertullian, De Resurr. chap. xix.: resurrectionem mortuorum distorquent asseverantes ipsam etiam mortem spiritualiter intelligendam … resurrectionem earn vindicandam, qua quis addita veritate redanimatus et revivifactus Deo, ignorantiae morte decussa, velut de sepulcro veteris hominis eruperit.

2 Timothy 2:18. οἵτινες implies that Hymenaeus and Philetus were only the more conspicuous members of a class of false teachers.

περὶἠστόχησαν: See notes on 1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 1:19.

λέγοντες, κ.τ.λ.: There can be little doubt that the false teaching here alluded to was akin to, if not the same as, that of some in Corinth a few years earlier who said, “There is no resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:12). What these persons meant was that the language of Jesus about eternal life and a resurrection received its complete fulfilment in our present conditions of existence, through the acquisition of that more elevated knowledge of God and man and morality and spiritual existence generally which Christ and His coming had imparted to mankind. This sublimest knowledge of things divine is, they said, a resurrection, and the only resurrection that men can attain unto. These false teachers combined a plausible but false spirituality, or sentimentality, with an invincible materialism; and they attempted to find support for their materialistic disbelief in the resurrection of the body in a perverse misunderstanding of the Christian language about “newness of life” (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12; Colossians 3:1). “Esse resurrectionem a mortuis, agnitionem ejus quae ab ipsis dicitur veritatis” (Irenæus, Haer. ii. 31, 2; cf. Tert. de Resurr. 19); an achieved moral experience, in fact; not a future hope. The heresy of Marcion, on the other hand, while denying the future resurrection of the body, affirmed positively the immortality of the soul; cf. Justin Martyr, Dial. 80. “Marcion enim in totum carnis resurrectionem non admittens, et soli animae salutem repromittens, non qualitatis sed substantiae facit quaestionem” (Tert. adv. Marcionem, 2 Timothy 2:10).

τινων: See note on 1 Timothy 1:3.

18. who concerning the truth have erred] More exactly, men who concerning the truth erred by maintaining. For the compound relative indicating the class see on Titus 1:11; for the verb 1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 6:21. The present participle, with the aorist verb, may indicate the repetitions of their ‘saying’ and so their ‘maintaining,’ and leads the way to the following verb being present.

that the resurrection] The ms. authority for the omission of the article is hardly strong enough to be followed, though R.V. notes the variant in the margin by the rendering ‘a resurrection.’ Curiously, in Acts 17:32, where there is no article, R.V. still renders ‘when they heard of the resurrection,’ there evidently intending the rule to apply that ‘the article is omitted before many abstract nouns.’ Why not here also? So that the retention or omission of the article will make no difference in translation. Winer has no notice of either passage in his full chapter on this, Pt iii. § xix.

is past already] Some identified the resurrection with the soul’s spiritual renewal by the doctrine of the Gospel causing it ‘to burst forth from the sepulchre of the old man’; others with the departure of the soul from the body, the world in their view being only the habitation of the dead. See Fairbairn. Irenæus and Tertullian both allude to the former error, which may well have been the view here referred to.

and overthrow] Better are subverting; for the word see note on Titus 1:11.

2 Timothy 2:18. Τὴν ἀνάστασιν, the resurrection) Perhaps these Ephesians had laid hold of a pretext taken from Paul’s own Epistle to the Ephesians, Ephesians 2:6. Clemens Al. says, that the defamers of marriage interpreted the resurrection [wherein “they neither marry nor are given in marriage”], Luke 20:35, concerning this life. [So the hope of eternal life was taken away.—V. g.]—ἀνατρέπουσι, subvert) The figure is derived from a foundation, a house; see the following verses.

Verse 18. - Men who for who, A.V. Have erred (ἠστόχησαν); see 1 Timothy 1:6 (note) and 1 Tim 6:21. In Matthew 22:29 and in Mark 12:24 our Lord's word for "erring" is πλανᾶσθε. It is remarkable that it was the subject of the resurrection which was so misunderstood in both cases. The heretics to whom St. Paul here alludes probably explained away the resurrection, as the Gnostics in the time of Irenaeus and Tertullian did (Huther), by spiritualizing it in the sense of Romans 6:4; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:12; Colossians 3:1, etc. It is the usual way with heresy to corrupt and destroy the gospel, under pretence of improving it. And there are always some weak brethren ready to be deceived and misled. Overthrow (ἀνατρέπουσί); elsewhere in the New Testament only in Titus 1:11; but common in LXX. and in classical Greek. 2 Timothy 2:18Have erred (ἠστόχησαν)

See on 1 Timothy 1:6.

The resurrection (ἀνάστασιν)

Only here in Pastorals.

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