Dr. Lawrence Butler, The Bridge Church, Pembroke.
Lesson 3: Foolish and Unlearned Questions II Tim. 2:23-26 We have already looked at two dangers to the church, striving about “words to no profit,” and being influenced by “profane and vain jangling.” Both are dealing with strife and debates within the church. Striving about words leads to the subverting of the hearers, which means they become confused and their judgment is impaired. The “profane and vain jangling” has a negative impact by causing the wrong spirit to eat in the soul like a canker. Now Timothy is taught by Paul to watch out for another danger. “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes” (II Tim.2:23). These types of questions have no “solid wisdom in them” (Gill) and are so far from what we have learned through the teaching of the gospel.
Barnes says that the word unlearned means “trifling: that which does not tend to edification; stupid.” Many of the people of that day were given to debating and arguing. Especially did the Greeks love new controversies and religious questions (remember Paul on Mars Hill in Athens, Acts 17:21-24). Even the Jews were quite good at interpreting the Law and were well versed in defending their beliefs. Into this context then we find Paul warning Timothy to be careful about allowing this atmosphere into the church. Perhaps Paul was even concerned about Timothy’s ability to defeat these points of argument. Just because you can win an argument does not mean you are right!
The ultimate concern Paul had about these things was the spiritual welfare of the people. Those that debate and argue may be doing what Paul described in verse 25, opposing themselves. “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (II Tim.
2:25). This leads to the entrapment of the soul by the devil. Thank God there is deliverance for those who get caught up in such a situation.
“And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (II Tim. 2:26).
Timothy was told to “charge” the people in verse 14, to “shun” the things in verse 16, and to “avoid” the questions in verse 23. Failure to do these things leads to what happens in the next chapter.