2 Timothy 2:2
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
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(2) And the things that thou hast heard of me.—These “things” have been often understood as referring to the few great fundamental truths rehearsed by the Apostle, in the presence of the elders of the congregation, on the occasion of Timothy’s solemn ordination. “The things,” then, would have been something of the nature of what is contained in a creed or profession of faith. But it is better to give to “the things” which Timothy had heard of St. Paul, and which he was to deliver to other faithful men in his turn, a much broader reference, and to understand them as comprehending far more than the narrow limits of a profession of faith could possibly contain. “The things” were, no doubt, the sum of St. Paul’s teaching, the general conception of Pauline theology, which Timothy, so long the Apostle’s intimate and confidential friend and disciple, was to give out to another generation of believers. It was, in fact, the “Gospel of St. Luke”—“my Gospel,” as we love to think St. Paul termed that matchless summary of the life and teaching of the Blessed. It was the theology shrined in such Epistles as those once written to the Romans or Ephesians in past years. These “things” again and again, in crowded congregations, before Jewish and Christian elders, before assemblies composed of idolaters, had Timothy heard that master of his, with his winning, pleading voice, tell out among “many witnesses.” Those “things” Timothy, in his turn, the voice of St. Paul the Aged being hushed, was now to commit to others.

Among many witnesses.—These, according to the above interpretation, included Pagans and Jews, the rich and poor, the untaught sinners of the Gentiles and the skilled rabbi trained in the schools of Jerusalem and Alexandria.

The same commit thou to faithful men.—Not to men merely who were “believers” in Jesus Christ. This, of course, was intended, but the “faithful men” here denoted loyal, trusty souls—men who, under no temptation, would betray the charge committed to them.

Who shall be able to teach others also.—Not only must the Christian teachers to whom Timothy is to give the commission of teaching, be trustworthy men, they must also possess knowledge and the power of communicating knowledge to others. Although the divine help was to be prayed for and expected in this and all other sacred works, yet it is noticeable how St. Paul directs that no ordinary human means of securing success must be neglected. St. Paul’s last charge in these Pastoral Letters of his, directed that only those shall be selected as teachers of religion whose earthly gifts were such as fitted them for the discharge of their duties. While there is nothing in this passage to support the theory of an authoritative oral teaching, existing from the days of the Apostles, in the Church—the words of St. Paul here point to the duty of the Christian soldier, not only himself to keep unchanged and safe the treasure of the Catholic faith as taught by the Apostle, but to hand down the same unimpaired and safe to other hands.

The great Christian truths were never allowed to be recklessly handled. There was a school, so to speak, of Christian theology in the time of St. Paul. His dying charge directed his best beloved disciple to make careful provision for the choice and training of teachers in the congregation. Men able as well as willing, gifted as well as zealous, should be the objects of his choice.

Some have imagined that these directions respecting the handing down the lamp of Christian truth to others were given to Timothy with a view to his leaving Ephesus—the appointed scene of his labours—for Rome, to join the imprisoned Apostle (2Timothy 4:9), in which event men able as well as devoted should be left in this great centre to carry on the work of Timothy and of St. Paul. But it is far better to understand St. Paul’s charge as given to Timothy, a representative leader of the Church of Christ, and to understand the Apostle’s words as addressed to the Church of all times. The runners in the Christian race must take good care before they fall out of the course that their torches, still burning, be handed on to the athletes who take their place.

2:1-7 As our trials increase, we need to grow stronger in that which is good; our faith stronger, our resolution stronger, our love to God and Christ stronger. This is opposed to our being strong in our own strength. All Christians, but especially ministers, must be faithful to their Captain, and resolute in his cause. The great care of a Christian must be to please Christ. We are to strive to get the mastery of our lusts and corruptions, but we cannot expect the prize unless we observe the laws. We must take care that we do good in a right manner, that our good may not be spoken evil of. Some who are active, spend their zeal about outward forms and doubtful disputations. But those who strive lawfully shall be crowned at last. If we would partake the fruits, we must labour; if we would gain the prize, we must run the race. We must do the will of God, before we receive the promises, for which reason we have need of patience. Together with our prayers for others, that the Lord would give them understanding in all things, we must exhort and stir them up to consider what they hear or read.And the things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses - Margin, "by." Before, or in the presence of, many witnesses. Perhaps he refers to a solemn charge which he gave him, in the presence of the church, when he was ordained. It is by no means improbable that such a charge was given then to a newly ordained minister, as it is now. On such an occasion, the apostle would be likely to state a summary of Christian doctrine, - (compare the notes at 2 Timothy 1:13), - and to exhort Timothy to a faithful adherence to it.

The same commit thou to faithful men - In the same way as those things have been committed to you. The reference is undoubtedly to ordination to the ministerial office. Timothy was to see that those only were admitted to the ministry who were qualified to understand the truths of religion, and to communicate them to others. This is a clear warrant for ministers to set apart others to the same sacred office. It does not prove that the people are not at liberty to choose their own pastor, but only that those in the ministry are to set apart others to the same office with themselves. There is, doubtless, to be a "succession" of ministers in the church; but the true line of the "succession" is to be found in good men who are qualified to teach, and who have the spirit of Christ, and not merely in those who have been ordained.

Who shall be able to teach others also - On the qualifications of ministers, see the notes at 1 Timothy 3:2-7.

2. among—Greek, "through," that is, with the attestation (literally, "intervention") of many witnesses, namely, the presbyters and others present at his ordination or consecration (1Ti 4:14; 6:12).

commit—in trust, as a deposit (2Ti 1:14).

faithful—the quality most needed by those having a trust committed to them.

who—Greek, "(persons) such as shall be competent to teach (them to) others also." Thus the way is prepared for inculcating the duty of faithful endurance (2Ti 2:3-13). Thou shouldest consider as a motive to endurance, that thou hast not only to keep the deposit for thyself, but to transmit it unimpaired to others, who in their turn shall fulfil the same office. This is so far from supporting oral tradition now that it rather teaches how precarious a mode of preserving revealed truth it was, depending, as it did, on the trustworthiness of each individual in the chain of succession; and how thankful we ought to be that God Himself has given the written Word, which is exempt from such risk.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses; the doctrine of the gospel which thou hast heard from me, confirmed by the testimony of many of the prophets of old, or, which thou heardest from me committed to thy trust, there being many witnesses present, when thou wert ordained. or set apart to thy office.

The same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also; commit unto others that shall be set apart for the ministry; but let them be such as have an ability to communicate their knowledge to others, and such as thou shalt judge will be faithful to their trust.

And the things that thou hast heard of me,.... Meaning the doctrines of the Gospel, the form of sound words. The Arabic version renders it, "the secrets, or mysteries that thou hast heard of me"; the mysteries of the grace of God, which he had often heard him discourse of, unfold and explain:

among many witnesses; or by them; which some understand of the testimonies out of Moses, and the prophets, with which the apostle confirmed what he delivered; for the doctrines of justification, pardon of sin, &c. by Christ, were bore witness to by the prophets; though rather the many persons, who, with Timothy, heard the apostle preach, and were and would be sufficient witnesses for Timothy, on occasion, that what he preached and committed to others were the same he had heard and received from the Apostle Paul; unless reference should be had here to the time of imposition of hands upon him, when he received some ministerial gifts, or an increase of them; at which time the apostle might deliver to him the form of doctrine he was to preach, and that in the presence of the presbytery, who joined in the action, and so were witnesses of what was said to him:

the same commit thou to faithful men; who not only have received the grace of God, and are true believers in Christ, but are men of great uprightness and integrity; who having the word of God, will speak it out boldly, and faithfully, and keep back nothing that is profitable, but declare the whole counsel of God, without any mixture or adulteration; for the Gospel being committed to their trust, they would become stewards, and of such it is required that they be faithful; and therefore this is mentioned as a necessary and requisite qualification in them; and not only so, but they must be such

who shall be able or sufficient

to teach others also. No man is sufficient for these things, of himself, but his sufficiency is of God; it is he who makes men able ministers of the word, by giving them gifts suitable for such work; so that they have a furniture in them, a treasure in their earthen vessels, an understanding of the sacred Scriptures, a gift of explaining them, and a faculty of speaking to edification; and so are apt to teach men, to their profit and advantage, The Ethiopic version renders it, "who are fit to teach the foolish".

And the things that thou hast heard of me among {a} many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

(a) When many were there, who can bear witness of these things.

2 Timothy 2:2. While 2 Timothy 2:3 corresponds with the first verse, 2 Timothy 2:2 seems to contain a thought foreign to this connection. But as the contest to which Paul is exhorting Timothy, consists substantially in the undaunted preaching of the pure gospel and in the rejection of all heresy, it was natural for him to exhort Timothy to see that others were armed with the word for which he was to strive. The true warrior must care also for his companions in the fight.

καὶ ἃ ἤκουσας παρʼ ἐμοῦ] (comp. 2 Timothy 1:13 : διὰ πολλῶν μαρτύρων). These words belong immediately to ἤκουσας; Heydenreich is wrong in supplying μαρτυρούμενα or βεβαιούμενα. According to Clemens Alexandrinus, Hypotyp. i. 7, Oecumenius, Grotius, and others, μάρτυρες is equivalent to νόμος καὶ προφηταί, for which there is as little justification as for the opinion that the other apostles are meant. The preposition διά is explained by Winer, p. 354 [E. T. p. 473]: “intervenientibus multis testibus, with intervention, i.e. here in presence of many witnesses” (so, too, the more recent expositors). Right; but διά is not equivalent to ἐνώπιον (1 Timothy 6:12). Διά intimates that the witnesses were present to confirm the apostle’s word, or, as Wiesinger says, “that their presence was an integral element of that act to which the apostle is alluding.”

According to Matthies, van Oosterzee, Hofmann, the apostle is thinking here of his public discourses on doctrine; but the whole character of the expression, particularly also the otherwise superfluous addition of διὰ πολλῶν μαρτύρων, make it more probable that the words refer to a definite fact, the fact spoken of in 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6 (Wiesinger). In that case, the μάρτυρες are the presbyters and other members of the church who were present at Timothy’s ordination. Mack rightly directs attention to 1 Timothy 4:14; but he is wrong in explaining διὰ μαρτ. by διὰ προφητείας “in consequence of many testimonies.”

ταῦτα παράθου πιστοῖς ἀνθρώποις] Heydenreich: “this doctrine commit to faithful keeping and further communication as a legacy, as a precious jewel” (comp. Herod, ix. 45: παραθήκην ὑμῖν τὰ ἔπεα τάδε τίθεμαι); but the expression ἃ ἤκουσας does not refer so much to the whole of evangelic doctrine as to the instructions given to Timothy for the discharge of his office.

πιστοῖς ἀνθρώποις] not “believing,” but “faithful, trustworthy” men.

οἵτινες ἱκανοὶ ἔσονται καὶ ἑτέρους διδάξαι] Heydenreich thinks that this denotes a second quality of those to be instructed by Timothy, a quality in addition to their “honest sense,” viz. their capacity for teaching; but οἵτινες, which, as contrasted with the simple relative pronoun, refers to a subject undefined, but in various ways definable (see Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 387), points back to πιστοῖς, so that the meaning is: “who as such,” etc. The future ἔσονται does not stand in the same sense as the present, but denotes their capacity as one depending on the tradition to be imparted to them (“as the consequence of the παρατίθεσθαι,” Wiesinger). The καί before ἑτέρους; is not to be overlooked; “others too,” i.e. “others in turn.” Who are the ἕτεροι? According to the common presupposition, with which van Oosterzee also agrees, the ἕτεροι are the church, or more generally the hearers of the preaching of the gospel. But in this view the καί, which does not belong to ἑτέρους διδάξαι (Hofmann), but to ἑτέρους, is inexplicable; it is more probable that Paul means other πιστοὶ ἄνθρωποι (de Wette, Wiesinger). Paul gathered round him pupils to whom he gave instructions in regard to their office; they, too, are to do the same; those chosen by them the same in their turn, etc., that in the church there may abide a stock of apostolic men who will see to the propagation of pure doctrine.

The words διὰ πολλῶν μαρτύρων show that there is no thought of a secret doctrine; nor is he speaking of the regular employment of teachers who, in the absence of Timothy, are to take his place in the church at Ephesus, “ne sine episcopo vaga oberret ecclesia” (Heinrichs).

2 Timothy 2:2. St. Paul is here contemplating an apostolical succession in respect of teaching rather than of administration. It is natural that in the circumstances of the primitive Church the building up of converts in the faith should have occupied a larger place in the Christian consciousness than the functions of an official ministry; but the historical continuity of the ministry of order is of course involved in the direction here. St. Paul would have been surprised if any other conclusion had been drawn from his words. In any case, the Providence of God sees further than do His servants.

ἃ ἤκουσας παρʼ ἐμοῦ: See note on 2 Timothy 1:13.

διὰ πολλῶν μαρτύρων: not per multos testes (Vulg.), but coram multis testibus (Tert. de Praescript. 25). The usual Greek for “in the presence of witnesses” is ἐπὶ μαρτύρων; but διὰ θεῶν μαρτύρων is quoted from Plutarch (see Field, in loc.).

The διὰ is that of accompanying circumstances. The reference is to a solemn traditio of the essentials of the faith on the occasion of Timothy’s ordination, rather than his baptism. The former reference seems clear from the parallel drawn between St. Paul’s committal of the faith to Timothy and Timothy’s committal of it to others. On the other hand, a comparison of 1 Timothy 6:12 favours the view that this refers to a formal public instruction at baptism. Reasons have been already suggested against the identification of the laying-on of hands of 1 Timothy 4:14 with that of 2 Timothy 1:6. Otherwise it would be natural to suppose that the many witnesses were the members of the presbytery who were joined with St. Paul in the ordination of Timothy. But there is no reason why the reference should be thus restricted. The action was a public one, “in the face of the Church”. So Chrys., “Thou hast not heard in secret, nor apart, but in the presence of many, with all openness of speech”. The view of Clem. Alex. (Hypot. vii. ed. Potter, ii. p. 1015) that the πολλοὶ μάρτυρες mean testimonies from the Law and the Prophets is only a curiosity of exegesis.

παράθου: See note on 1 Timothy 1:8.

πιστοῖς: trustworthy, carries on the figure of the faith as a deposit. It is possible, as Bengel suggests, that the injunctions in 2 Timothy 2:14-21 have reference to these ministers.

ἱκανοί: qualified. See reff. δυνατός, in Titus 1:9, expresses capability as proved by experience.

2. the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses] ‘Of’ in the sense of from as in 2 Timothy 1:13; ‘among,’ i.e. ‘in the presence of according to the well-known use of the same preposition in Galatians 3:19 ‘(the law) ordained through angels,’ i.e. ‘in the presence of,’ ‘amid the pomp of.’ Cf. Winer iii. § 47 i., ‘intervenientibus multis testibus.’ We are most probably to understand the presbyters who assisted at Timothy’s ordination. See 1 Timothy 4:14; and note the similar form of the statement there ‘amid the pomp of prophesying’ with the similar use of the preposition.

the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able] Lit., ‘who are of such a class that they will be able,’ as 1 Timothy 1:4, &c. St Clement of Rome, St Paul’s contemporary, thus further defines the rule of this apostolic succession, ad Cor. c. 44. ‘The Apostles appointed the above-named priests and deacons, permanence being afterwards given by them to the office in order that oh the death of the first-appointed other reputed men should succeed to their ministry. Those then who were appointed either directly by the Apostles or in the second generation by other approved heads with the consent of the whole Church … we do not think can be rightly ejected from office.’ See Lightfoot’s emended text, p. 136.

2 Timothy 2:2. Διὰ, by) before, 1 Timothy 6:12.—παράθου, commit) before thou comest thence to me.—πιστοῖς, to faithful men) This is to be the distinguishing grace to be sought for in those to whom thou committest this trust or deposit. [This is treated of in 2 Timothy 2:14-21.—V. g.]—ἔσονται, shall be) after thy departure.

Verse 2. - Which for that, A.V.; from for of, A.V. The things which thou hast heard, etc. Here we have distinctly enunciated the succession of apostolical doctrine through apostolical men. We have also set before us the partnership of the presbyterate, and, in a secondary degree, of the whole Church, with the apostles and bishops their successors, in preserving pure and unadulterated the faith once delivered to the saints. There can be little doubt that St. Paul is here alluding to Timothy's ordination, as in 1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 1:6, 7, 13, 14. Timothy had then heard from the apostle's lips a certain "form of sound words" - something in the nature of a creed, some summary of gospel truth, which was the deposit placed in his charge; and in committing it to him, he and the presbyters present had laid their hands on him, and the whole Church had assented, and confirmed the same. "Thus through many witnesses," whose presence and assent, like that of witnesses to the execution of a deed of transfer of land (Genesis 23:10, 16, 18), was necessary to make the transaction valid and complete, had Timothy received his commission to preach the Word of God; and what he had received he was to hand on in like manner to faithful men, who should be able to teach the same to others also. Commit (παράθου); identifying the doctrine committed to be handed on with the deposit (παραθήκη) of 1 Timothy 6:20 and 2 Timothy 1:14. It is important to note here both the concurrence of the presbyters and the assent of the Church. The Church has ever been averse to private ordinations, and has ever associated the people as consentient parties in ordination (Thirty-first Canon; Preface to "Form and Manner of Making of Deacons," and rubric at close - "in the face of the Church;" "Form and Manner of Ordering of Priests" - "Good people," etc.). 2 Timothy 2:2Among many witnesses (διὰ πολλῶν μαρτύρων)

Διὰ through the medium of, and therefore in the presence of.

Commit (παράθου)

As a trust or deposit (παραθήκη). See on 2 Timothy 1:12, 2 Timothy 1:14. In Paul only 1 Corinthians 10:27.

Faithful (πιστοῖς)

Not believing, but trusty, as appears from the context. See on 1 John 1:9; see on Revelation 1:5; see on Revelation 3:14.

Able (ἱκανοὶ)

In Pastorals only here. Very common in Luke and Acts: a few times in Paul. See on many, Romans 15:23.

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