2 Timothy (Part 19)
1. In contrast with a shameless right dividing of the word of truth, Paul here warns
against cancerous words which spring from wrongly dividing the word of truth.
2. Hymenaeus and Philetus acknowledged the biblical doctrine of the resurrection but
they had erred from the truth and wrongly divided it.
A. The doctrine of the resurrection includes the resurrection of Jesus Christ (a
past event, v.8), the similar future resurrection of His seed (ROM 8:11) and
the simultaneous resurrection of the wicked dead
(JOH 5:28-29; ACT 24:15).
B. By improper division of the words of Scripture according to definition,
grammar, context, parallel passages, etc., they had wrongly divided the
doctrine of the resurrection.
3. Timothy is told to shun profane and vain babblings (of which Hymenaeus' and
Philetus' heresy is an example).
A. Profane: “Not pertaining or devoted to what is sacred or biblical, esp., in
profane history, literature; unconsecrated, secular.”
B. Vain: “Devoid of real value, worth, or significance; idle, unprofitable,
useless, worthless; of no effect, force or power; fruitless, futile, unavailing.”
C. Babbling: “Incoherent talk, idle chatter.”
D. Profane and vain babblings are here seen as unbiblical doctrines.
(1) Timothy must shun that which is not the word of truth. c/w 1TI 6:5.
(2) Remember that Paul is prescribing things against the perilous times to
come. 2TI 3:1.
(3) If there is one thing that is desperately needed to counter perilous
times, it is sound Bible teachers who insist on Scripture ONLY!
(4) That there will come a time when sound doctrine will not be endured
does not mean that it should not be preached! 2TI 4:2-3.
E. Shun: “To abhor, detest, loathe.”
(1) The primary definition (according to the OED) was obsolete by the end
of the 13th C. However, such a strong emotion against heresy is
biblical. PSA 119:104, 128; REV 2:6, 15.
(2) A subordinate definition is: “3. To avoid (in mod. prose use always to
avoid persistently or habitually).... c. with obj. a mode of action,
expression, or behaviour, an occupation, employment, subject of
conversation, a mental condition or the like.”
a. The underlying Greek here for shun, periistemi (SRN #4026),
denotes the concept of “avoid” and is translated “avoid” in
b. Compare 1TI 6:20.
(3) We generally avoid what we detest.
(4) Mind that the best thing for a minister to do with profane and vain
babblings is shun them, not entertain or tolerate them. Serpents and
babblers may only be charmed to a point. ECC 10:11 c/w PSA 58:4-5.
F. Contrast “shun profane and vain babblings” with ACT 20:27.
4. Paul is here equating profanity with false doctrine (heresy).
A. It is common to uniquely equate profanity with “pungent” descriptive words,
some of which the Holy Spirit relies upon to make a point.
1KI 14:10; MAL 2:3.
B. How many churches in the name of godliness decry what they consider to be
profanity while preaching false doctrine which IS profanity and then condemn
the believer who dares to describe their false doctrines as “damnable heresies”
(1) Since profane and vain babblings (heresies) increase unto MORE
ungodliness, they themselves must BE ungodliness.
(2) See ISA 5:20.
C. Given that heresies underly division in the church/body (1CO 11:18-19; ACT
20:30; 2PE 2:1-2) and heresy is profanity, it is interesting that the word
schism (which denotes a division or departure from an accepted standard)
evidently has the same etymology as common equivalent of “dung.” Both
carry the concept of “to separate from the body.”
(Ayto, Dictionary of Word Origins, p. 416)
D. Pharisaical heresy especially needs to be put in its proper context. PHIL 3:8.
5. Mind that babbling is “incoherent talk or idle chatter.”
A. It is as useless as the slurred stupid speech of a drunk. PRO 23:29-30.
B. Incoherent: “Of thought and mental phenomena, language, literary
compositions, etc.: Without logical connexion or natural sequence of ideas;
inconsistent, rambling, disjointed.”
C. Babbling is characterized by inconsistency and illogic. This is typical of and
a giveaway of heresy that should be shunned. Examples:
(1) “Our only rule of faith and practice is the infallible inspired Scriptures
(which are only the lost original autographs which we have never
(2) “Eternal life awaits you. There's nothing you can do to obtain it. All
you have to do is....”
(3) “Belief of the gospel is an indispensable requirement for entrance into
heaven (unless you are a Jew, underaged, handicapped or have never
(4) “God can forgive all sins except unbelief so repent and believe so that
you may be forgiven of all sins including unbelief.”
D. Another form of babbling that is doubly condemned would be the false gift of
“angel's tongues” as exercised by some charismatics.
(1) It is affirmed that their ecstatic, incomprehensible gibberish that is not
an identifiable human language is the tongues of angels that Paul
mentioned in 1CO 13:1 and is “Holy Spirit language” by which they
speak to God, per 1CO 14:2.
(2) The Holy Spirit does speak to God for us, but “...with groanings which
CANNOT BE UTTERED” (ROM 8:26).
(3) “Though I speak with....tongues of angels...” (1CO 13:1) is one of a
number of illustrative hyperboles Paul uses in 1CO 13:1-3 to
emphasize the superiority of charity to any conceivable gift.
a. If the language of 1CO 13:1 is a prompt for Christians to speak
in an unknown tongue of angels, the same language must also be
a prompt in v.3 to give everything away to the poor and give
one's body to be burned.
b. Compare 1CO 13:1 with ECC 6:6; AMO 9:2; JOH 21:21-23.
(4) “Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without
rain” (PRO 25:14). Neither produce anything of real value.
6. “...they will increase unto more ungodliness” (v.16).
A. False doctrine breeds ungodliness in that it gives occasion to ungodly
behavior. ROM 1:25-32; 6:1; 1CO 15:33.
B. By contrast, sound doctrine encourages godliness. 1TI 1:9-10; PRO 2:10-17.
7. “And their word will eat as doth a canker...”
A. False doctrine corrupts other doctrine. Hymenaeus' and Philetus' denial of the
future resurrection was the denial also of Christ's resurrection.
B. Canker: “An eating, spreading sore or ulcer; a gangrene...”
C. A very practical reason why unbiblical doctrine should be shunned early is
that it has a propensity for spreading and infecting others.
GAL 5:9 c/w MAT 13:33.
D. For this cause, a minister of Christ must exhort and convince gainsayers by
sound doctrine before their speech subverts others. TIT 1:9-11.
8. Hymenaeus and Philetus had already spread their infection to others and overthrown
their faith. v.18.
A. “Who concerning the truth have erred...” This implies that they had once
believed the truth but had apostatized.
(1) Such an heretic is himself first subverted before subverting others.
(2) The record of such as Hymenaeus and Philetus may be summarized as:
Perverted, Converted, Subverted, Subverter.
(3) Perhaps a vigilant brother could have spotted such a trend at its onset
and worked to prevent it. JAM 5:19-20.
B. It is interesting that Hymenaeus and Philetus were not satisfied with simply
adopting an unbiblical doctrine and quietly withdrawing.
(1) They made sure they affected others instead to develop a following.
c/w ACT 20:29-30.
(2) A dutiful minister of Christ will therefore encourage elders he has
trained to be vigilant, even as Paul was here doing to Timothy.
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