God-Approved Scholar-Worker

Scripture: 2 Tim 2:15-21


15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his”, and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” 20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honourable use, some for dishonourable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable,[b] he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.  ---2 Tim 2:15-21


“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever” … this is the Word… preached to you.  ---1 Pet 1:24-25; Is 40:6




  • Timothy was pastor of Church in Ephesus
  • Veterans despised Timothy for youth and inexperience (1 Tim 4:12a)
  • False teachers opposed Timothy’s leadership




Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.  ---1 Tim 4:12


Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them… if you do, you will save… yourself and your hearers  ---1 Tim 4:16



I. Timothy to Prove Himself (v.15)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.  ---2 Tim 2:15


Do your best (spoudazo): zeal, vigour, earnestness

  • NAB: Be eager
  • NJB: Make every effort
  • NKJV: Be diligent


Timothy to go beyond norm: from ordinary to extraordinary; from superficial to profound; from casual to thorough


Present yourself to God

A personal commitment by Timothy to exert his best effort to God, the Judge/Examiner


An approved workman

  • Who does not need to be ashamed
  • Who correctly handles the Word of Truth


Handles (orthotomeo): hapax legomenon or a term used only once

  • Literally, to cut a straight road
  • Impliedly, to be straightforward in dealing with the Word of Truth



II. Timothy to Avoid Godless Chatter (vv.16-18)

Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarrelling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins (katastrophe) those who listen.  ---2 Tim 2:14


Godless chatter (kenophonias):

  • keno = empty
  • phonias = noise
  • frivolous talk with no spiritual substance


16 Avoid godless chatter because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,18 who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.  ---2 Tim 4:16-18


avoid or shun (periistaso):

  • peri = around; away
  • istaso = move; stay 
  • stay away; skirt round


Why avoid? 

Those who engage in godless chatter will become more and more ungodly  ---v.16b

Such godless chatter will spread like gangrene  ---v.17a


  • spread = have pasturage, sheep roaming in pasture to devour grass
  • gangrene = disease causing body parts to decay



!! False Teachers Identified (v.17b)


  • Hymenaeus and Philetus who had wandered away from the truth
  • False teaching: resurrection had already taken place
  • False teaching had destroyed the faith of some believers


destroy (anatrépousin): a serious disturbance had threatened to shake the Christian faith


I will build MY CHURCH and the gates of Hades will not overcome it  ---Mt 16:18



III. The Invincible, Invisible Church (v.19)

Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are His” and “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”  ---2 Tim 2:19


The Foundation Laid by God


  • nevertheless = an adversative adverb to contrast the discouraging report of ruin caused by false teaching
  • firm = an adjective to denote permanence, strength, stability -- stresses the steadfastness of God’s foundation


Seal on the Foundation


A seal attests legal ownership


Moses spoke to Korah and all his assembly… “God has visited and known those that are His and who are holy and has brought them to Himself… whom He has chosen for Himself.”  ---Num 16:5


1. The Lord knows those who are His 
2. Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness


“O Lord our God, take possession of us: O Lord, we know no other beside You: we name Your name.”  ---Isa 26:13


Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.”  ---Num 16:24


"Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.”  ---Num 16:26



IV. A Large House (v.20)

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.  ---2 Tim 2:20


Household and Its Articles


  • Different articles from different materials (gold, silver, wood, clay) with specific purposes (noble and ignoble)
  • Gold and silver are rare valuable metals used for dignified uses to reflect owner’s status. Wood and clay are common cheap materials to make mundane items that are stored away




  • Most scholars say the ‘house’ represents the visible Church on earth with true believers and charlatans coexisting
  • In three parables in Matthew, Jesus spoke of wheat and tares (13:24–30), good fish and bad fish (13:47–50), sheep and goats (25:32–33). 
  • On  the Day Of Judgement, their identities will be revealed—the true from the false.



V. The Essential Cleansing (v.21)

If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.  ---2 Tim 2:21


Vessel for Noble Purposes


  • He is made holy (set apart) for a special purpose
  • He is useful to the Master
  • He is prepared to do any good work



The Summary

  • Timothy to set an example for the believers
  • Timothy to do his best to be approved of God
  • Timothy to correctly handle God’s Word
  • Timothy to avoid godless chatter
  • Timothy to cleanse himself


The Challenge

Adopt the SG mentality. Desire to be top student.

  • Go for extra studies by attending tuition classes.
  • Buy and read extraneous resources
  • Study: read, underline, highlight, make notes, memorise, and practise tons of Assessment or Test Papers from ‘elite’ schools


Apply to our context

  • Attend onsite CE classes to be conducted in 2023
  • Buy books: invest in commentaries
  • Study God’s Word: doing QT is not enough to get God’s approval. 

Special Challenge

Elim to go through transition with younger ones helming leadership. Prayerfully, veterans do not despise young leaders. Be mentors like Paul to Timothy, Peter to Mark, and John to Polycarp.