2 Timothy 2 – ESVBible.org.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:22-26 ESV)
Of course a teacher is to be affable. Kind in spirit in as much as it is right to be so, but when we want to know what gentleness is we must consider all that Paul is saying to Timothy without neglect to the broad parameters of what it means to be kind. We cannot forget that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, nor can we forget that it is through God’s kind judgement that repentance comes. No one repents except that they are charged with being wrong. Paul, in fact, calls holding to teaching that is false, sin. And yes, ignorance then is sin, for ignorance is the opposite of the likeness of the maturity of the Son of God who is light and not darkness. We are not to remain children tossed about by every wind of doctrine and the cunning of men, but to bring down every thought which exalts itself against the knowledge of God. What is the controversy in the SBC except being tossed about? The calm seas of truth settled as proven do not look a thing like the SBC.
Prautes- prah-oo’-tace Noun, Feminine: mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness.
It is one of the words used for kindness. To be kind in 2 Tim 2, is epios. Though slightly a different cast, all words along with the full range of meaning used for similar descriptors of the proclaimers of truth must be taken into consideration with all of Scripture’s depiction of those who are the great cloud of witness. Not all of it is nice.
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:5-13 ESV)
Praus- prah-ooce’ Adjective: mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness; Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time.
Also to be considered is the fact that since God’s mercy is toward us, we are to be equipped with the same mind. So, humility speaks to us that we are to have reverence for God, properly understanding that the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord, knowing that our enemies whether within the household of God or without, are no more the enemies of God than we were at one time.
In the first instance of the root praus, we have what many have used to rule out any harsh speech when confronting error in the church. The second is what gentleness can look like in demonstration, for Jesus, who turned over tables and called his own disciples anoetos, cannot be anything less than our true example of the meanings. Following this out, here is John’s description of the temple event:
The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:13-17 ESV)
Here it is, a holiday, and what does Jesus do? Being jealous, for that is what the word zeal means, he acts meek and mild, of course, not wanting to upset the peace and propriety of the occasion and so turns over the tables and whips the sin out of the poor, doctrinally challenged money changers. This is characterized as a monstrous display if found in a teacher of the church, today.
Demonstrating Christlikeness, is also found in Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”
You can see how the condescension of Christ, who was under the authority of God, fully submitted to the Father, did what was appropriate to the circumstance. He fed the crowds and called them gluttons who served their bellies. Likewise, one cannot reconcile the use of prautes to mean affable, soft, mild, in all passages even when epios is associated with it. Instead, there is an appropriation made of a range of definition. In fact, we have instruction that we are to show kindness, and the word used in Peter is chrestoskhrase-tos’, which means fit, fit for use, useful, virtuous, good. It can mean soft and mild, and other appropriations of common usage. But, unless one uses both definitions of both chrestos and prautes, he cannot get to the full meaning of Scripture, especially in 2 Timothy 2, which is a common place we find the error of the be nicety-nice or be rejected paradigm defended. As the temple incident demonstrated, there is meek, and then there is MEEK.
Unfortunately, and too often, only the genteel meaning is used for those words commonly translated kindness, humble, meek, and gentle. So, any showing of harshness, as Jesus did, is deemed not in the Spirit, and operating against the principles of Christlikeness with which we are to approach error in the church. The problem is, Jesus didn’t act so foolish as to think that when whips were needed, dialogue and sweet disposition was the only appropriate response. Monologue, was his normal mode. And harsh correction was his oft used expression of the kindness of the Lord which leads to repentance, such as “Get behind me Satan.” Simply, one should not say his brother in Christ is serving the Devil in his thinking even though Jesus and Paul did.
In the SBC’s self-contradictory doctrine of “you can have your truth, we can have ours,” what is most glaringly obvious is the loss of biblical authority by the very fiat of cherry-picking the meanings of words to fit their traditions. This happens in both the anti-Calvinist and the Calvinist divisions within the SBC. Neither side can maintain neutrality, however, as each side seeks to defend it orthodoxy, which always provokes the other side to respond to invective by invective. It starts out often ostensibly innocently in saying things like “any thinking man,” or publishing a Statement. But, it quickly becomes as rough and tumble as would be expected when there really isn’t any sincere hope for peace.
A new book just out, Killing Calvinism, I prejudged. And why? Because it promtes the very error of Scriptural compromise for the sake of peace which makes John, Peter, James, Paul and Jesus and every other voice of God in Scripture, say what they never intended to say. How are brothers to approach one another? How are brothers supposed to deal with error? How are we to respond to the weak? To the world? By whom, to whom, and for what reason are necessary questions which need to be asked. How are we to deal with apostasy, heresy, divisiveness? Well in Paul’s time, it was turning such a one over to Satan so he might learn not to blaspheme. Or, “how do you want me to come to you?” Paul said:
For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.
And don’t mistake it, Paul is speaking of demolition as the necessary groundwork, some of which he has already been engaged in, before building up can take place, or the context of Corinthians means nothing. How did Paul approach Peter, we should ask before condemning the affect of emotive speech. Is there a situational nuance to meek and mild manners? Is anger a proper mode of dialogue? Is being emotive and using strong language the problem, or is the control of them? Does, “Be angry and sin not,” mean anything? And just who is supposed to defend doctrine? Can the laity give an answer when asked even though not mature? Is being abused under false doctrine a legitimate enough reason to passionately express the proper doctrine even if not a teacher? Does it even matter that a confession is supposed to mean something?
Here’s my take on it, the angst, and frustration that is often found among the Young Restless and Reformed, or the new Calvinism, or whatever one wants to call it, is because those who hold office in the church, who hold the Doctrines of Grace, refuse to defend them as truth and all other doctrine as opposed to the truth. The “can’t we all just get along” paradigm leaves those depending upon leadership wondering why bother if the leaders do not in sincerity hold these doctrines to be the only teaching of Scripture. Greg Dutcher says there is a problem with those who confuse the doctrine of Sovereignty of God with God. But wait, how can God be separated from who he is? Are his attributes incidental to his nature, or his nature? Jesus is not just a person, is he? Is he not the Truth?
In today’s church, Paul could not get away with such a threatening attitudes when present. Or, even the threatening elitism of corrections he made to false doctrine in letter. Saying things like fools as Paul did, and being deriding as James was, or Peter’s calling those who oppose the teachings clouds without water, predestined to damnation, or Jesus calling his disciples slow of mind, and spiritual dunces, would not ever pass the test of today’s so called apologists and teachers in most venues of Calvinism, SBC or otherwise. The real issue is confessionalism versus doctrinal laxity. As Kevin Boling rightly assessed the issue, we don’t lead with Calvinism, Calvinism is simply the teaching of the gospel and cannot be separated from it.
For all the feel-goodism in the can’t we all just get along of both camps in the SBC, no unity has been born except the false unity of the ecumenical spirit of the big tent compromise which bred the situation today rather than resolving it. The time has come to realize, that the figure heads, Calvinist or non-Calvinist, of the SBC don’t have a choice when faced with error. They must prove, hold to what is true, and rebuke those who oppose the truth. Scripture commands that error be silenced. Nor do they have the right to leave others to their opinions for peace sake, for opinions are nothing more than ignorant arguments. Should we leave the man bruised and beaten who has been mauled by theives? How can error be silence if it is agreed that all are ignorant and that’s okay? Ignorance breeds quarrels, and the seeking of teachers that tickle the sensuous fancy because it makes one feel good to think they’re right even if they’re wrong breeds ignorance. Jesus did not say when the Spirit of opinion comes, he will lead you into all sorts of dialogue. And it is blasphemy to think that each has received what others have not so that personal opinions stand as equals to doctrine. Paul condemned that and taught, rather, that no one has anything more than anyone else and that no one should go beyond what is written. The key is you have to know what is written not just speculate about it. There is one faith, not as many as there are quick-witted teachers. Until true humility reigns, which says that whatever we have we have from God, and that with reverence of that fact we need to speak circumspectly with fear as oracles of God, for we will be judge for every word, and that means dropping the pretense that God has given the church the right to hold individual opinions equal with doctrine, the foolish arguments, as Paul calls them, will continue and grow worse and undermine the authority of Scripture, thus making the salt taste like dung and so blaspheme the Name of God before the eyes of the world.
Here is another place where epios is used. But, unless we forget, Paul is not about to leave them babes suckling the teat for long:
For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!
But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2 ESV)
A couple of things to note here. The Gospel was without error or deception. These were newborns. Paul and his fellow laborers were longing to return to complete the task of discipleship that they had started. And, these were people who Paul says were elected for this, chosen by God, so that the power of God in sovereign salvation might be made known (he obviously didn’t think election to be secondary). Those who fear the Gospel try there best to stop it, but it cannot fail because God is the one doing the choosing of those who will be saved. The doctrine of sovereign election is fundamental to the gospel. Funny thing is, that he tells Timothy, also, that he was called to announce the good news to the chosen ones, to whom he was sent just as Christ was sent, for which he was confident that they would without fail be brought to the faith because God had foreordained it. Ironic that the very niceness that some use to disqualify believers because insistence on election as primary doctrine is harsh, is the very niceness that insists on it.
Being motherly midwives of the Lord’s children, and then their fathers, the role of teachers is to complete the training with full faithfulness to the complete doctrine revealed in Scripture, and not just the milk of the gospel message. Paul later says: “But we do not want you to be ignorant…”
There is more to the gospel message, strong meat the author of Hebrews calls it, than just the evangel. And it was for this purpose that Paul wanted to return to Thessalonica, so that, as with Timothy, they would be fully equipped for every good work. They were to “not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.”
Doctrine which was sound was to be proven, not guessed at, and without error, or as he told Timothy, so that the worker would not be shamed. Paul instructed them in following his example in speech and behavior, as he did every he went, and insisted that only sound, that is proven doctrine, be taught. Paul will go on to say in the next epistle: “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” There is a body of doctrine beyond the elementary teachings of Christ which must be adhered to and in this case it was of eschatological specifics and not just the parousia in general. Of what are so erroneously called non-primary doctrines, Paul says that those who will be destroyed are those who teach them falsely. Doctrine is never adiaphoral matters of indifference. Contrary to Scripture’s insistence on teaching sound doctrine even in matters of eschatology, according to the triage advocates, unimportant doctrines, as if there were any such thing, are fair game and can be handled loosely and mangled at will.
It may be politically incorrect to say that both sides of the divide in the SBC are in error in wanting to approve of one another so as to allow each to call themselves of this or that tradition, or any other political faction. One thing is for certain, the Scripture no where allows for private interpretation and individualism in doctrine which cause such factions. It insists on a single tradition and one which can be proven. The SBC is in great apostasy by allowing such partisanism. But it is precisely a foundation of division upon which the SBC now stands, having given themselves over to the allowance of error as a badge of pride in the big tent circus.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t take a stand one way or the other on the doctrinal issues which divide the SBC. There is one issue, more than any other, that caused me to remove myself from the SBC. And that is the tolerance for making the Holy Spirit double-minded in the truth once and for all delivered to the saints. It is the undermining of the authority of Scripture by the so called right of liberty of conscience. Authority is a necessary aspect of inerrancy. There could be no more clear defining condition of liberalism as to deny that truth can be known. And no more revealing symptom of the syndrome than to say that each has a right to his own opinions as if all opinions were equal and equal to doctrine. What more warning does one need than:
Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
(Matthew 12:31-37 ESV)
There is no right to private opinion, only the right to sound doctrine which all must obey. It is time to stop being so careless with the Word, it borders on the blasphemy for which no one will be forgiven. Oppositional opining makes the Holy Spirit to testify against himself as if he were a double-minded man. As Jesus said, either the tree is good or it is not, there is no other condition allowed. By their fruits they are known. The words spoken are either true or false, of the Holy Spirit, or against him. Prove all things, hold to what is good. Better to be known as a fool and remain silent than to open ones mouth and dispel all doubt. If you speak, speak as an oracle of God, or remain silent. It is as simple as that.
Here is a great article on liberty of conscience.
(The definitions and descriptions of Greek words belong to StudyLight.org © 2001-2012 and have been reformatted from their original.)