2 Timothy 2:20-21
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor…
I. WHAT IS THE GREAT HOUSE HERE SPOKEN OF? The Church is sometimes in Scripture called the house of God (1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:2), and here a great house. If the greatness of that material house of God, erected by Solomon, was measured by the number of workmen, which were 200,000, and of the years wherein it was a building, which were seven; much more may we conceive this spiritual house great, which hath been from the beginning of the world a setting up, both by God's own hand, and infinite numbers and millions of workmen, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, pastors, teachers, martyrs, confessors, professors, and holy men in all ages. And for the parts, the foundation is of pure gold, even Jesus Christ. The stones not dead, as in other houses, but living stones (1 Peter 2:5). And the whole house is, saith St. Peter, a spiritual house; so as great things are spoken, and might more be spoken, of this great house of God.
II. WHAT ARE THESE VESSELS OF GOLD AND SILVER, OF WOOD AND EARTH? As in the material house of God, the temple, were vessels for all services, both more honourable, of gold and silver, and others of baser matter; so in this spiritual house (typified by that) are vessels, that is, persons of sundry sorts, distinguished in our text.
1. in themselves, by their matter, gold, silver, wood, earth.
2. In their use and end, honour and dishonour.Now, out of each part observe somewhat.
1. In that the Church is the house of God, and we all profess ourselves to be within this house, we learn two things:(1) To walk careful in God's presence, who dwelleth in it. In other great houses many things pass and are done, which the master knows not, for that he is not always at home, and, if he were, yet his eye could not be in all corners. But the owner of this house is never from home, and His eye pierceth into every part of His house, and is on every person, so that nothing can escape Him.
(2) To acquaint ourselves with His will and directions.
2. In that the Church is the house of God, it follows every Christian is a part of this house (Hebrews 3:6). And therefore we must —
(1) Give the Lord possession of His house.
(2) Having once given Him possession, beware of sacrilege. What was once dedicated to God might never be profaned.
1. Note that there must necessarily be a mixture of good and bad in the visible Church; vessels of divers sorts.
2. Note how the Lord esteems of a godly man, though he be good but in part. He calls him a vessel of gold and a vessel of honour, even where much dross remains to be purged.But how shall I know that I am indeed a vessel of honour?
1. In respecter himself, he purgeth himself from these things. What is this purging or purifying? According to our former resemblance, we may conceive the metaphor to be taken from goldsmiths, who used to try and purify their metals from dross, before they can frame it to a vessel of honourable use and service. Even so doth the Lord with His chosen. Who must cleanse and purify? Every man himself, none excepted, that will be a golden vessel. This purging is all one with our sanctification; the whole work of which is God's, as appears —
(1) By His promise (Isaiah 4:4).
(2) By Christ's testimony (John 15:2).
(3) By His prayer for the whole Church (John 17:17).
(4) By the prayers of all saints (Psalm 51).And yet we are said to purge ourselves; yea, to convert ourselves, and make ourselves new hearts. When —
1. Being renewed by the Spirit, we co-operate with Him in using the means, In not resisting His work. From what must a man purge himself? From these things — that is, lusts and defilements, errors in judgment and practice, in faith and manners, of which he had spoken before; implying sin to be the foulest filthiness in the world, and that it defiles the whole man. But when must he purge himself? The apostle speaks in the present time, for there is no purgatory hereafter. Again, the present time noteth a continued act; so as every man must always while he liveth be purging away these things.
2. The second mark for the trial of such a one is in respect of God. He is meet for the Lord. Before God can use men as vessels of honour, Himself must first fit and prepare them to honourable services. We are His workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10).
3. The third is in respect of godliness. Prepared to every good work. Where —
(1) The object works good in the author, rule and kind, piety and mercy.
(2) The extent — every.
(3) The readiness to it — Whence? of God.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.