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Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

2:15 Study. A Christian should be a student, especially a student of the Word of God, but also of the world of God and the works of God. Actually the Greek for “study” (spoudazo) means “be earnest and diligent.”


2:15 dividing. The figure is of a workman or possibly a surgeon, dissecting an object in a very straight line. The word translated “rightly dividing” (Greek orthotomeo) literally means “cutting straight”; it is used only here. That is, the one who would be a faithful teacher of God’s Word must diligently study it and be careful to accept and teach it as it is. This means taking it to mean exactly what the writer intended it to mean, not deviating to right or left. Normally, this would require taking it literally, unless the writer himself makes it evident that he is using symbolic language or a figure of speech. The writers—especially writers inspired by the Holy Spirit—wanted their writings to be understood. Consequently, they would normally use figurative language only if this would make their message easier to understand.


2:15 word of truth. Jesus said: “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). “Thy word is true from the beginning,” said the psalmist (Psalm 119:160). The Lord Jesus said “I am the truth” (John 14:6). One who would teach the Bible effectively must teach it as absolute truth, centered in Jesus Christ.


2:16 profane. That is, “ungodly” or “unholy.”


2:16 vain babblings. See I Timothy 6:20, where Paul identifies “profane and vain babblings” as related to “science falsely so called,” referring essentially to pantheistic evolutionary philosophy.


2:17 canker. This could be an ulcer or any ulcerating sore, even a cancer.


2:17 Hymenaeus and Philetus. Hymenaeus means “singing man” and Philetus means “friendly man.” These names may well suggest the characters of these two blasphemers (see note on I Timothy 1:20). It is often true that the most effective subverters of God’s Word of truth are men who outwardly seem to be very smooth and charming (compare II Corinthians 11:13-15).


2:18 overthrow the faith. The implication of this phrase refers to those who were corrupting such vital truths as in Romans 6:5 and Colossians 3:1-3, in addition to denying the great promises of the future resurrection when Christ returns (e.g., I Thessalonians 4:16-17).


2:19 this seal. This phrase is quoted from Numbers 16:5, though in a different context. In the church, built upon God’s true foundation (Christ and His Word) the Lord identifies those who belong to Him as those who believe on the name of Christ and therefore depart from iniquity.


2:20 great house. The great house is the church (note Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20-21; I Timothy 3:15). The vessels are its members and their works (note I Corinthians 3:12-15; Romans 9:17-23).


2:21 purge himself from these. That is, we should not be influenced by the “vessels unto dishonour” in the church. In fact, depending on the particulars in a given case, such members may need to be brought under church discipline and even excommunicated.


2:21 prepared unto every good work. Compare II Timothy 3:17. If we would be “prepared unto every good work,” we must study, believe and heed the Holy Scriptures.


2:22 Flee also youthful lusts. There are some things so dangerous that the Bible simply says we are to flee from them. Not only youthful lusts, but also “the love of money” (I Timothy 6:10-11), “idolatry” (I Corinthians 10:14), “fornication” (I Corinthians 6:18), and especially “the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7).


2:24 strive. “Strive” means to be quarrelsome, seeking to change the mind of one’s opponent by arguing with him. That approach will not win him over, even if he is unable to answer the arguments. “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” We are told to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3), but that doesn’t mean to be contentious about the faith.


2:26 taken captive. This verse is rendered in various ways by different expositors. Probably it should be understood somewhat as follows: “And that they may be recovered from the devil’s snare, having been recaptured by [the servant of the Lord] to do [God’s] will.”


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