Paul– The Lord’s Servant Must Not Be Quarrelsome

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Paul’s final Epistle, written to his son Timothy, is perhaps my favorite piece of writing from this apostle…

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (II Tim 1:1-7 ESV).

Paul was in prison in Rome.  Timothy had probably been present when Paul was arrested for a second time and then transported to Rome for his final imprisonment.  And now, knowing his time is short, Paul desires to see Timothy.  He recalls with fondness the time he first met Timothy, and the young man was invited to join his ministry association.

Then came he to Derbe and Lystra, and, behold, a certain Disciple as there, named Timothy, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek, which was well reported of by the Brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.  Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters; for they knew all that his father was a Greek (Acts 16:1-3 KJV).

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you (II Tim 1:8-14 ESV).

Even though Paul was a prisoner in a Roman cell, he in no way considered himself a prisoner of Nero, but rather of the LORD.  The Gospel he was entrusted to proclaim and be witness to was LORD Jesus Messiah and Him Crucified.  This, in fact, was the very first Doctrine of Scripture, and every true Doctrine is built on this Foundation.

For the wages of sin is death; but the Gift of God is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ our LORD (Rom 6:23 KJV).

Regarding his imprisonment, some were ashamed of Paul.  But he was not ashamed of his imprisonment, but a steadfast witness to the Truth of God.  Anytime Paul uses the phrase “in Christ Jesus” or one of its derivatives, without exception, he is speaking of the LORD Jesus Messiah and Him Crucified.

You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me— 18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus (II Tim 1:15-18 ESV).

One of Paul’s most sorrowful trials that he had to face was the agony of his last witnessing for the Truth of God being turned away from and no longer held in honor in some of the Asian churches, which were so dear to him.

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men,who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything (II Tim 2:1-7 ESV).

While many turned away from Paul’s witness of Jesus Messiah and Him Crucified, there is evidence here that some did not.  Some were faithful.  Paul exhorts Timothy to be like a soldier with one thing on his mind—carrying out his duty.

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself (II Tim 2:8-13 ESV).

Because of his witness to Jesus Messiah and Him Crucified, Paul suffered severe trouble.  If the Gospel were diluted in any way, there would be no Eternal Glory.

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 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” (II Tim 2:14-19 ESV).

False doctrine does not leave its victims as they were found, but rather, worse—much worse.  “Irreverent babble” is guaranteed to increase ungodliness more and more—spreading “like gangrene.”  Those who bring false doctrine into the community of Faith are to be marked—by name.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them.  For they who are such serve not our LORD Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple (Rom 16:17-18 KJV).

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels (II Tim 2:20-23 ESV).

If it isn’t the Truth of God, if it is rambling much ado about nothing, avoid it.  Separation from false teachers and false prophets is a must for Life in Christ Jesus.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will (II Tim 2:24-26 ESV).

Unless the Believer makes the Truth of God, the Gospel of LORD Jesus Messiah and Him Crucified, the Object of his faith, giving him the help of the Holy Spirit, he is helpless against Satan, and will be “captured by him to do his will.”  Anyone who preaches otherwise is a deceiver.

Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, prophesy against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Say to them, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord.  This is what the Sovereign Lord says: What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!’

 “O people of Israel, these prophets of yours are like jackals digging in the ruins.  They have done nothing to repair the breaks in the walls around the nation. They have not helped it to stand firm in battle on the day of the Lord.  Instead, they have told lies and made false predictions. They say, ‘This message is from the Lord,’ even though the Lord never sent them. And yet they expect him to fulfill their prophecies!  Can your visions be anything but false if you claim, ‘This message is from the Lord,’ when I have not even spoken to you?

 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because what you say is false and your visions are a lie, I will stand against you, says the Sovereign Lord.  I will raise my fist against all the prophets who see false visions and make lying predictions, and they will be banished from the community of Israel. I will blot their names from Israel’s record books, and they will never again set foot in their own land. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.

“This will happen because these evil prophets deceive my people by saying, ‘All is peaceful’ when there is no peace at all! It’s as if the people have built a flimsy wall, and these prophets are trying to reinforce it by covering it with whitewash!  Tell these whitewashers that their wall will soon fall down. A heavy rainstorm will undermine it; great hailstones and mighty winds will knock it down. And when the wall falls, the people will cry out, ‘What happened to your whitewash?’

“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will sweep away your whitewashed wall with a storm of indignation, with a great flood of anger, and with hailstones of fury.  I will break down your wall right to its foundation, and when it falls, it will crush you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.  At last my anger against the wall and those who covered it with whitewash will be satisfied. Then I will say to you: ‘The wall and those who whitewashed it are both gone.  They were lying prophets who claimed peace would come to Jerusalem when there was no peace. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!’ (Ezekiel 13:1-16 NLT).