2 Timothy 1:13
Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
While Paul was passing through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the Churches, he came to Lystra, where he found a certain disciple, named Timothy, who was highly esteemed by the Christian brethren in that city. This recommended him to the notice and acquaintance of the apostle; who being fully persuaded of his unfeigned piety and promising talents, determined to take him with him, and prepare him by proper instruction to preach the gospel. Timothy gratefully received and wisely improved this precious privilege, made great proficiency in theological knowledge, and soon became acquainted with the whole scheme of religious sentiments which the apostle embraced and taught. This form of sound words, or rather this system of sound doctrines, the apostle taught Timothy, and exhorted him to hold fast as a necessary and indispensable qualification for the gospel ministry. The opinion and practice of the apostle in this instance naturally leads us to conclude that a systematical knowledge of the gospel is still necessary to qualify other pious young men as well as Timothy for the same sacred office.
1. Young men who are preparing for the ministry should understand the harmony and connection which run through all the peculiar and essential doctrines of the gospel. These are so intimately connected that they cannot be clearly understood separately considered.
2. A systematical knowledge of the principal doctrines of the Bible is necessary in order to understand and explain the true meaning of the Scriptures in general.
3. Young men who are preparing for the ministry should have a systematical knowledge of the gospel, that they may be able to guard themselves against the religious errors to which they are peculiarly exposed.
4. It is necessary that those who are preparing for the ministry should have a systematical knowledge of the gospel in order to be able to refute as well as to avoid religious errors.
5. A systematical knowledge of the gospel is no less necessary in order to qualify pious young men to preach both the doctrines and duties of Christianity in the most plain, instructive, and profitable manner.It now remains to point out some things which seem naturally to flow from the subject.
1. The first thing suggested by the subject is that there can be no reasonable objection against all human systems of divinity. It is said that systems of divinity tend to promote religious controversies, which are highly prejudicial to practical religion. But it is very evident that they do not give rise to religious disputes, because religious disputes have always given rise to them. It is said that systems of divinity tend to prevent men from forming any real opinions of their own and to infringe upon their right of private judgment. No man can be said to have a real opinion upon any subject which is not derived from evidence; and if it be derived from evidence, it is totally immaterial whether he derives the evidence from his own investigation, or from conversation, or from reading, or from public or private instruction. It is said that systems of divinity are often the engines of designing men, and intended to propagate error instead of truth. It is not denied that theological systems may have been designed and employed to serve such an evil purpose. But it must be acknowledged, on the other hand, that they may have been designed and employed to counteract the baneful influence of error and to promote the cause of truth.
2. If the leading sentiment in this discourse has been sufficiently supported, we must conclude that it is generally improper for those to undertake to preach the gospel who have never acquired a systematical knowledge of it. In the next place, it appears from what has been said, that both an academical and theological education is highly necessary to qualify pious young men for the work of the ministry.
3. The whole train of the observations which have been made in this discourse now converge to a single point, and unitedly press the important duty of assisting pious and promising youths to furnish their minds with that literary and theological knowledge which is indispensably necessary to prepare them for the gospel ministry.
(N. Emmons, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.