2 Timothy 2:16
But shun profane babblings.

I. THE DUTY OF THE MINISTER TOWARD SUCH BABBLINGS. He is to shun them, because they are profitless - a mere sound of words, without solid meaning; great swelling words of vanity, not only unprofitable, but contrary to the doctrine that is according to godliness. The minister must shun, discourage, and repudiate them in the interests of truth and piety.

II. THE TENDENCY OF SUCH BABBLINGS. "They will proceed further in ungodliness." The allusion is not to the babblings, but to the false teachers.

1. There is a close connection between lax doctrine and a loose life. The error of the false teachers had not yet appeared in its fully developed form, but its true moral tendency was clearly foreseen from the first.

2. There is a tendency in false teachers to carry their principles to their last logical results. They have thrown off the checks of authority and conscience; they have been emboldened, perhaps, by a temporary success; and so they insist on wresting the whole Scripture to their own destruction as well as that of others.

III. THE EFFECTS OF SUCH FALSE TEACHING. "And their word will eat as doth a gangrene."

1. It will spread further and further.

(1) Through the subtlety of seducers;

(2) through the unwary simplicity of Christian professors;

(3) and as a judicial infliction upon such as, possessing no love of the truth, receive delusion to believe a lie.

2. It will have corrupting and destroying effects. The strong figure of the apostle sets the matter in an impressive light.

IV. THE RING LEADERS OF HERESY. "Of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some."

1. The leading apostles of error.

(1) It is a solemn thought that the Spirit of inspiration has given an immortality of infamy to these two names. If they were ambitious of notoriety, they have gained it far beyond the extent of their expectations.

(2) Hymenaeus is evidently the person referred to already (1 Timothy 1:25), whom the apostle had "delivered unto Satan;" but he seems to have profited in no way in the interval by the severe discipline applied to him. Of Philetus nothing is known. It is a Greek name, but it occurs in Roman inscriptions.

2. The nature of their error. Their principal error, which is mentioned, was a denial of the resurrection in its true sense.

(1) They probably perverted the words of the apostle himself when he spoke of a spiritual resurrection (Romans 6:4, etc.; Colossians 2:12), of which they could say truly enough that "it was past already;" but they denied a resurrection of the body, which was just as expressly taught by the same apostle.

(2) The error had its origin in the Greek philosophy, which regarded matter as essentially evil, and as therefore unworthy to share in the ultimate glorification of the redeemed.

3. The injurious effects of their error. "And overthrow the faith of some."

(1) The doctrine of the resurrection is founded on the resurrection of Christ, which is the foundation doctrine of Christianity. Those errorists seem to have touched with unholy hands this cornerstone of Christian hope.

(2) The influence of the errorists, evil as it was, was only partial. It only affected "some;" but even this thought was a sad one to the apostle. - T.C.

Shun profane and 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.

(H. D. M. Spence, M. A.)

They will increase unto more ungodliness.
προκόψουσιν. The metaphor is from pioneers clearing the way before an army, by cutting down all obstacles: hence to make progress, to advance.

(James Bryce, LL. D.)

The close connection between grave fundamental errors in doctrine and a lax and purely selfish life is constantly alluded to by St. Paul.

(H. D. M. Spence, M. A.)

Let the serpent but wind in his head, and he will quickly bring in his whole body. He that saith Yea to the devil in a little, shall not say Nay when he pleases.

(J. Trapp.)

On approaching my subject I shall premise four things:

1. I have no disposition to underrate the importance of right beliefs in religion.

2. I hold it to be the right of every man to endeavour to propagate his beliefs.

3. I recognise the value of a rightly-conducted theological controversy.

4. The controversy of which I have to speak is that of a conventional theology. By a conventional theology I mean a theology which a man has received from others, rather than reached by his own research; a theology which has been put into his memory as a class of propositions, rather than wrought out of his soul as spiritual convictions; a theology which is rather the manufacture of other men than the growth of individual reflection and experience; a theology which is more concerned about grammar than grace — symbol than sense — sign than substance. Now, such controversies, in the nature of the case, must always be marked by two features.



I. SUCH CONTROVERSIES DEVELOP THE MOST IMPIOUS ARROGANCY. All the arrogancy of mere worldly men pales into dimness in the glare of the arrogancy which that man displays who dares pronounce a brother heretic because he subscribes not to his own views.

II. SUCH CONTROVERSIES DEVELOP THE MOST LAMENTABLE DISHONESTY. The polemic of a mere scribe theology has ever been a cheat.

1. He cheats by the representation he makes of himself. He would have his readers or hearers believe that he has reached the conclusions in debate by a thorough study for himself of the holy Book. It is false. It is a law that self-reached convictions expel dogmatism. But the polemic of a mere scribe-theology cheats also by representing himself as being inspired only in the controversy by love for truth. It is not lore for truth; it is love for his own opinions.

2. He is dishonest in his representation of his opponents, he imputes motives not felt — ideas and conclusions not held.

III. SUCH CONTROVERSIES DEVELOP A MOST DISASTROUS PERVERSITY. The conventional controversialist perverts the Bible, the powers of the intellect and the zeal of the heart.

IV. SUCH CONTROVERSIES DEVELOP THE MOST HEARTLESS INHUMANITY. They blind the polemic to the excellences of others. The technical theologue who looks at a brother through the medium of his own orthodoxy, will fraternise with a modern scoundrel if he is orthodox; but, like Caiaphas of old, will rend his robes with pious horror at incarnate virtue if it conform not to his own views. What inhumanities have not been perpetrated in the name of orthodoxy! What built the inquisition? What kindled the flames of martyrdom? What animated Bonner? What prompted Calvin to murder Servetus? What roused the Jewish rabbis to put the Son of God to death? The remarks made will suffice to justify the proposition that the controversies of a mere conventional theology are the most effective means of developing depravity.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. PROFANE VAIN BABBLINGS ARE TO BE AVOIDED. How often does our apostle condemn them? Why are they to be avoided?

1. Because the branches which bear them are evil; as weakness of judgment, frowardness of will, and disorder in the affections.

2. And do they not blemish our reputation? obscure the gloss of grace? hinder the acts of it? kindle corruption? and turn from the faith?


(J. Barlow, D. D.)

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