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Thursday, August 12, 2010

truth and error 4: a local challenge, vv. 16-18

16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)
Paul is writing Timothy to prepare and equip him to lead the local church in ministry and mission. There are challenges and dangers all around – sometimes from without and sometimes from within. Here Paul describes a challenging situation with two men in the local church community where Timothy was pastoring.

I mentioned this situation last week, when we looked at the phrase “wrangling with words” in v. 14. That phrase literally means “to fight with words as with swords” and I noted that the false teaching about the resurrection was wounding and carving up the local body where Timothy served. That led to Paul’s charge to study and apply God’s Word carefully and accurately.

Note that these men were not outside the church, where there were also plenty of dangers and pitfalls for the mission-minded Christian. The surrounding culture of 1st century Greco-Roman culture was as over-sexed and appetite-centered as anything you could find today. But this passage reminds us that the church itself has never been pure and perfect on this earth. Because it is full of human beings, it is a mixture of “wheat and tares” (to use Jesus’ analogy). And Paul gives his own analogy for it in vv. 19-21. We’ll look at that in the next post.

Posts in this "Truth and Error" series:
1 - intro and core doctrine, 2 timothy 2.14-26
2 - word-wrangling, v. 14
3 - study, v. 15
4 - a local challenge, vv. 16-18
5 - church pictures, vv. 19-21
6 - empty talk, vv. 16-18
7 - immaturity and distraction, v. 22
8 - false teaching, v. 23
9 - kind to all, v. 24
10 - able to teach, patient, gentle, vv. 24-25
11 - gracious hope, vv. 25b-26a
12 - enemy clarification, v. 26b

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