2 Timothy 2:26
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
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(26) That they may recover themselves.—The literal meaning of the Greek word rendered “that they may recover themselves” is. that they may awake from drunkenness. The English version, however, gives the meaning with great exactness. Those taken in the snare of the devil are represented as not only captives in the snare of the devil, but as also helplessly wrapped in slumber.

The deadly peril of all “captives of sin” is here well painted. These unhappy ones, before they can free themselves from the toils of the evil one, must awake from the deep slumber in which they are wrapped: in other words, must first be conscious of their awful danger.

Who are taken captive by him at his will.—These words have been variously interpreted by commentators. The meaning that, on the whole, seems most satisfactory, represents the captive to sin waking up from his deathly slumber and escaping the toils of the evil one, for the purpose of carrying out for the future the will of God. The rendering of the whole verse would be as follows: “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devilbeing held captive by himto do His (God’s) will.

It must be remembered that the first pronoun in this sentence, “being held captive by him,” referred here to the devil, and the second pronoun in the sentence, “to do His will,” referred here to God, are represented in the Greek by two distinct words: the first by αὐτοῦ, the second by ἐκείνου.

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.And that they may recover themselves - Margin, "awake." The word which is rendered "recover" in the text, and "awake" in the margin - ἀνανήψωσιν ananēpsōsin - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means, to become sober again, as from inebriation; to awake from a deep sleep, and then, to come to a right mind, as one does who is aroused from a state of inebriety, or from sleep. The representation in this part of the verse implies that, while under the influence of error, they were like a man intoxicated, or like one in deep slumber. From this state they were to be roused as one is from sleep, or as a man is recovered from the stupor and dullness of intoxication.

Out of the snare of the devil - The snare which the devil has spread for them, and in which they have become entangled. There is a little confusion of metaphor here, since, in the first part of the verse, they are represented as asleep, or intoxicated; and, here, as taken in a snare. Yet the general idea is clear. In one part of the verse, the influence of error is represented as producing sleep, or stupor; in the other, as being taken in a snare, or net; and, in both, the idea is, that an effort was to be made that they might be rescued from this perilous condition.

Who are taken captive by him at his will - Margin, "alive." The Greek word means, properly, to take alive; and then, to take captive, to win over Luke 5:10; and then, to ensnare, or seduce. Here it means that they had been ensnared by the arts of Satan "unto (εἰς eis) his will;" that is, they were so influenced by him, that they complied with his will. Another interpretation of this passage should be mentioned here, by which it is proposed to avoid the incongruousness of the metaphor of "awaking" one from a "snare." It is adopted by Doddridge, and is suggested also by Burder, as quoted by Rosenmuller, "A. u. n. Morgenland." According to this, the reference is to an artifice of fowlers, to scatter seeds impregnated with some intoxicating drugs, intended to lay birds asleep, that they may draw the snare over them more securely. There can be no doubt that such arts were practiced, and it is possible that Paul may have alluded to it. Whatever is the allusion, the general idea is clear. It is an affecting representation of those who have fallen into error. They are in a deep slumber. They are as if under the fatal influence of some stupefying potion. They are like birds taken alive in this state, and at the mercy of the fowler. They will remain in this condition, unless they shall be roused by the mercy of God; and it is the business of the ministers of religion to carry to them that gospel call, which God is accustomed to bless in showing them their danger. That message should be continually sounded in the ears of the sinner, with the prayer and the hope that God will make it the means of arousing him to seek his salvation.

26. recover themselves—Greek, "awake to soberness," namely from the spiritual intoxication whereby they have fallen into the snare of the devil.

the snare—(Eph 6:11, "the wiles of the devil": 1Ti 3:7; 6:9).

taken captive by him at his will—so as to follow the will of "THAT" (the Greek emphatically marks Satan thus) foe. However, different Greek pronouns stand for "him" and "his"; and the Greek for "taken captive" means not "captured for destruction," but "for being saved alive," as in Lu 5:10, "Thou shalt catch men to save them unto life"; also there is no article before the Greek participle, which the English Version "who are taken captive," would require. Therefore, translate, "That they may awake … taken as saved (and willing) captives by him (the servant of the Lord, 2Ti 2:24), so as to follow the will of HIM (the Lord, 2Ti 2:24, or "God," 2Ti 2:25)." There are here two evils, the "snare" and sleep, from which they are delivered: and two goods to which they are translated, awaking and deliverance. Instead of Satan's thrall comes the free and willing captivity of obedience to Christ (2Co 10:5). It is God who goes before, giving repentance (2Ti 2:25); then the work of His servant following is sure to be crowned with success, leading the convert henceforth to "live to the will of God" (Ac 22:14; 1Pe 4:2).

And that they may recover themselves; the Greek word ananhqwsin properly signifieth to awake out of a drunken sleep. A state of sin is a kind of drunkenness, in which men have lost the use of their reason.

Out of the snare of the devil; by the snare of the devil he means his temptations, which like snares are set covertly to catch souls.

Who are taken captive by him; Hebrew word signfies persons taken captive in war; in such a miserable captivity are sinners.

At his will; ezwgrhmenoi, which we translate at his will, may as well be translated to his will; and so the will of God may be meant, and the whole referred to the first sentence thus, may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil to the will of God; and that is the sense some make of it: but it seems more proper to refer it to the participle, taken captive, for that is next it; and so it signifieth the miserable state of sinners, who are captives at the devil’s command and will, that if he saith to them, Go, they go; if he saith, Come, they come; if he saith, Do this, they do it. And that they may recover themselves,.... Or "awake", and come to themselves, and appear to be sober, and in their right mind: the metaphor is taken from drunken men, who are overcharged, and are not in their senses, and being stupified fall asleep; and like these are persons intoxicated with errors and heresies, who when their minds are enlightened, and they are convinced of their evil tenets, repent of them, come to themselves, and acknowledge the truth, and so escape

out of the snare of the devil; for as carnal lusts and pleasures are the snares and nets, in which Satan, who may be compared to a fowler, catches some; so errors and heresies are those with which he ensnares others: "who are taken captive", or "alive",

by him at his will; such are taken in his nets and snares, as creatures are taken alive, by fowlers, and huntsmen; and they are held fast, and become his captives, and his slaves, and do his will, being led by him to whatsoever he pleases; he works powerfully in them, and they readily comply with him, and obey his lusts. Though some understand this, not of the will of the devil, but of the will of God; and that the sense is, that such persons are held captive by Satan, as long as it is the pleasure of God, and no longer; when the prey is taken from the mighty, and the lawful captive is delivered; and so it is an encouragement to the ministers of the word to go on in instructing, hoping this may be the case. Others connect this phrase, "to his will" or "according to his will", as they differently render it, with the word, "recover": and then the meaning is, that such, repenting of their errors, might escape out of the snare of Satan, in which they were taken alive; that so they might do the will of God, by professing and holding fast his truths; or that their repentance, recovery, and escape out of Satan's snare and captivity, are according to the will of God, and his sovereign good pleasure.

And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
2 Timothy 2:26. ἀνανήψωσιν is to be connected with εἰς τὸ ἐκείνου θέλημα. Compare ἐκνήψατε δικαίως, 1 Corinthians 15:34. ἐκείνου then refers to ὁ θεός, and θέλημα will have its usual force as the Will of God (see 1 Peter 4:2): That they who had been taken captive by the devil may recover themselves (respiscant, Vulg.) out of his snare, so as to serve the will of God. This is Beza’s explanation and that of von Soden (nearly), who compares αἰχμαλωτίζοντες, 2 Corinthians 10:5. It has the advantage of giving a natural reference to αὐτοῦ and ἐκείνου respectively, which are employed accurately in 2 Timothy 3:9. The paradoxical use of ζωγρέω in Luke 5:10 must not be taken as determining the use of the word elsewhere. Of the other explanations, that of the A.V. and Vulg., which supposes an inelegant but not impossible reference of both αὐτοῦ and ἐκείνου to τοῦ διαβόλου, is preferable to the R.V., following Wetstein and Bengel, which refers αὐτοῦ back to δοῦλον Κυρίου, and dissociates ἐζωγρημένοι from παγίδος, with which it is naturally connected. The reference of αὐτοῦ and ἐκείνου to the same subject, as given in the A.V., is paralleled by Wis 1:16, συνθήκην ἔθεντο πρὸς αὐτόν, ὅτι ἄξιοί εἰσιν τῆς ἐκείνου μερίδος εἶναι.26. and that they may recover themselves] Omit ‘that,’ the verb depending on ‘if perchance.’ The verb ‘recover themselves’ is literally ‘return to soberness.’ Constructed with the preposition ‘out of’ it has the pregnant force very frequent in Greek ‘become sober and escape out of.’ Cf. Winer, Gr. § 66, 2, p. 547. The simple verb occurs ch. 2 Timothy 4:5 ‘be sober’; another compound in 1 Corinthians 15:34 ‘awake out of’ drunkenness ‘righteously.’ This compound is only here in N.T.

the snare of the devil] Has occurred 1 Timothy 3:7, where, as here, it is the snare laid by the devil, a state of proud self-will morally and intellectually, the very opposite to a state of obedience to God’s will.

who are taken captive by him at his will] The A.V. rendering is a mere enlargement of the idea of ‘snare,’ requires the aorist part. and refers the two different pronouns to the devil. But (1) St Paul’s use of the perfect passive participle, held captive, is very strongly in favour of a reference to the final state of ‘recovery,’ not to the previous state of ‘entanglement.’ The final clause in 2 Timothy 2:21, where this participle ends the sentence, expresses the final state of ‘the vessel unto honour.’ The final clause in 2 Timothy 3:5 where the false teachers are described, has the same participle to shew their permanent rejection of vital godliness. The final clause in 2 Timothy 3:17, where the man of God is described, is ended in the same weighty form, ‘for every good work in a state of perfect preparedness.’ Hence the force of the perfect participle (as distinguished from the aorist) required here is ‘that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, continuing in the state of willing captivity into which they have been brought,’ ‘held willing captives.’

(2) St Paul’s use of the first pronoun here, rendered ‘by him,’ is strongly in favour of a reference to the ‘servant of the Lord.’ A certain person or thing is in his mind as his chief subject; and he refers to him or it after an interval, short or long, merely with this pronoun. Cf. 1 Timothy 4:16, ‘continue in them’—the words of the faith and of the good doctrine; Titus 3:1, ‘Put them in mind’—the aged men and women, the younger men and servants of ch. 2; 2 Timothy 2:17, ‘their word will eat’—‘those who strive about words,’ 2 Timothy 2:14.

(3) St Paul’s use of the preposition ‘unto’ for ‘into a state of,’ ‘into conformity with’ is strongly in favour of the last clause being intended to express the resulting state and condition; cf. ‘unto honour,’ ‘unto every good work,’ 2 Timothy 2:21; ‘unto full knowledge,’ 2 Timothy 2:25.

Render, therefore, held willing captives henceforth by their deliverer (the servant of the Lord) to do the will of God. So substantially the R.V. The participle is from a verb to ‘capture alive.’ Cf. Luke 5:10 the only other N.T. passage where the word occurs, and see Farrar’s note, ‘The word seems to imply the contrast between the fish that lay there glittering in dead heaps, and men who should be captured not for death (James 1:14) but for life.’ Both places refer to the evangelising work of the ministry.2 Timothy 2:26. Καὶ) and so.—ἀνανήψωσιν) This depends on if at any time: if they may awake, and shake off sleep.—ἐκ τῆςπαγίδος, from the snare) There are here two evils, captivity and sleep; and there are two good things, awaking and deliverance. An abbreviated expression.—ἐζωγρημένοι) Luke 5:10; taken captive willingly.—ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ, by him[11]) by the servant of the Lord. Where God goes before, 2 Timothy 2:25, the work of His servant (2 Timothy 2:24) is successful. God rouses: His servant draws them out of the snare.—εἰς τὸ) Construed with, if at any time they may awake. Ἐκ marks the terminus from which they set out, εἰς that to which they are to go. The former terminus is, oppose themselves, 2 Timothy 2:25, and the snare of the devil, 2 Timothy 2:26 : the latter is the acknowledgment of the truth and the will of God.—ἐκείνου, of Him[12]) God.—θέλημα, will) which is entirely free, and gives freedom; 1 Peter 4:2. The opposite is, from the snare. Paul himself was awakened to conversion, so that he might “know the will of God;” Acts 22:14.

[11] Not, by the devil, as in the Engl. Vers. They are taken so as to be saved alive, as ἐζωγρημένοι literally means. So our Lord uses the same word, and of the same thing, to Peter, Luke 5:10.—ED.

[12] Ἐκείνου being evidently distinct from αὐτοῦ; the latter referring to the servant of God, the former to God. Not as Engl. Vers., both referring to the devil.—ED.Verse 26. - They for that they, A.V.; having been taken captive by the Lord's servant unto the will of God for who are taken captive by him at his will, A.V. Having been taken captive, etc. This is undoubtedly a difficult passage. We will first take the individual words, and then turn to the general meaning. Recover themselves (ἀνανήψωσιν); only found here in the New Testament, and never in the LXX. In classical Greek, where it is, however, uncommon, it means literally "to recover from drunkenness," hence, "to come to one's self," "to come to a right mind" (see Steph., 'Thes.'). Snare (παγίς); as 1 Timothy 3:7; 1 Timothy 6:9. Compare the use of παγιδεύω (Matthew 22:15). Having been taken captive (ἐζωγρήμενοι); only found in the New Testament in Luke 5:10 besides this place, but common in the LXX. and in classical Greek, in the sense of "to take alive," of prisoners of war, who, if not ransomed, always became slaves of the conqueror. Here, therefore, the meaning is "having been captured and enslaved." By him (margin), (ὑπ αὐτοῦ); i.e. of course the devil, who had just been named as having ensnared them. Unto the will of him (margin), (ἐκείνου θέλημα). The difficulty of the passage lies in the word ἐκείνου, which at first sight seems to indicate a different antecedent from the antecedent of αὐτοῦ. This grammatical difficulty has led to the strange rendering of the R.V., and to the wholly unjustifiable intrusion into the text of the words, "the Lord's servant" and of "God," producing altogether a sentence of unparalleled awkwardness and grotesqueness, and utter improbability. But there is no real difficulty in referring ἐκείνου to the same person as αὐτοῦ (meaning in both cases the devil), as in the passage from Plato's 'Cratylus,' cited by Huther, after De Wette, the cause of the use of ἐκείνου being that St. Paul was at the moment emphasizing the fact of these captives being deprived of their own will, and made subservient to the will of another. The passage may be paraphrased: "If peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, so as to recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, after they had been led captive by him, so as to be no longer their own masters, but obliged to do his will." The implied contrast is οὐ τὸ ἑαυτῶν ἀλλ ἐκείνου θέλημα, just as in the passage from the 'Cratylus,' p. 430 (vol. 4. p. 306, Bekker's edit.), ἐκείνου is contrasted with γυναικός. The full passage is Δεῖξαι αὐτῷ α}ν μὲν τύχῃ ἐκείνου εἰκόνα α}ν δὲ τύχῃ γυναικός. Another example of the transition from αὐτός to ἐκεῖνος is in John 1:7, 8, Οῦτος η΅λθεν εἰς μαρτυρίαν, ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτὸς ἵνα πάντες πιστεύσωσι δι αὐτοῦ οὐκ η΅ν ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς, κ.τ.λ., where there is a contrast between John as the witness and Christ as the true Light (compare, too, John 4:25, where ἐκείνος has the force of "not you, but he"). For the general turn of phrase, comp. 2 Corinthians 10:5, "Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ," where αἰχμαλωτίζοντες (see 2 Timothy 3:6) corresponds to ἐζωγρημένοι and εἰς τὴν ὑπακοὴν τοῦ Ξριστοῦ to εἰς τὸ ἐκείνου θέλημα. It should be noted further that the sentence is certainly rather a peculiar one, from the use of such uncommon words as ἀνανήφω and ζωγρέω, and the mixture of metaphors. But the sense of the A.V. is fully borne out. The interpretation preferred by Bishop Ellicott is "they may recover themselves from the snare of the devil unto his will (viz. God's), having (previously) been led captive by him (viz. the devil)."

May recover themselves (ἀνανήψωσιν)

Lit. may return to soberness. N.T.o. See on be sober, 1 Thessalonians 5:6. A similar connection of thought between coming to the knowledge of God and awaking out of a drunken stupor, occurs 1 Corinthians 15:34.

Out of the snare of the devil (ἐκ τῆς τοῦ διαβόλου παγίδος)

Comp. Psalm 124:7. The phrase snare of the devil, only here and 1 Timothy 3:7 (note). The metaphor is mixed; return to soberness out of the snare of the devil.

Who are taken captive (ἐζωγρημένοι)

Or, having been held captive. Only here and Luke 5:10 (note on thou shalt catch).

By him (ὑπ' αὐτοῦ)

The devil.

At his will (εἰς τὸἐκείνου θέλημα)

Better, unto his will: that is, to do his (God's) will.

The whole will then read: "And that they may return to soberness out of the snare of the devil (having been held captive by him) to do God's will."

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