2 Timothy 2:19-22, 3:1-12
We’re continuing to focus on our life in Christ in view of the rapture, our Blessed Hope. Paul’s final letter to Timothy lays out a problem that was a threat to the church in Ephesus where Paul had poured out so much time and energy, and where Timothy was now ministering on his behalf. It is a problem and a threat that has plagued the church in waves from the days of the apostles all the way to today. From the prophetic words of Paul here (“the Last Days” in v1) we see that it will be something we have to guard strongly against until the Lord raptures the church.
It is the problem and threat of false teachers and the damage they wreak on God’s sheep. Paul refers to false teachers here in the church as “vessels of dishonor” in a household. In Acts 20 he warned the Ephesian elders about “wolves” arising from within the body of elders in that same church. Godly, true teachers, Timothy included, and those that follow their lead are to distance themselves from the vessels of dishonor – the false teachers and from their influences.
In 3:1-4 the apostle lists 19 marks that can characterize and help identify a false teacher and those influenced by their doctrine and practice. Not all 19 need be present or all in the same degree. The main point is that to be an honorable and useful vessel for the Lord’s work and pleasure, faithful believers are to mark out and avoid contamination from such. Paul concludes with 9 marks of a clean vessel in 3:10-11. To which one might add one more: Avoid contamination!