Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
Posted by Dim Bulb on October 10, 2010
I’ve included Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the biblical text, it appears in purple script immediately after the biblical text itself.
2Ti 3:14 But continue thou in those things which thou hast learned and which have been committed to thee. Knowing of whom thou hast learned them:
But do thou persevere in believing and preaching the things which thou hast learned from me, and which have been confided by me to thy safe keeping, mindful of the master, by whom you were taught them.
“And which have been committed to thee.” Referring to the deposit of faith.
“Knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” He assigns two reasons why Timothy should continue faithful: the first is derived from the authority of his teacher, no other than an Apostle of Christ, carried up to the third Heaven.—(2 Cor 12:2).
2Ti 3:15 And because from thy infancy thou hast known the holy scriptures which can instruct thee to salvation by the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Bearing also in mind, that from thy infancy thou has learned the Sacred Scripture, which can instruct thee unto salvation, through the faith of Christ Jesus to which they conduct thee.
The second reason why Timothy should continue faithful is derived from the long period of his education in the Christian religion. From his very infancy, he was taught the SS. Scripture under the pious care of his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois; for, his father was a Pagan, and would not permit him to be circumcised. ” Which can instruct thee,” in the Greek, τα δυναμενα σε σοφισαι, which can render thee wise, i.e., render you learned, “unto salvation.” “By the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” The proper reading of the SS. Scrip–ture would lead to Christ; for,”the end of the law is Christ”—or, the words may mean, that in order to derive the proper wisdom and instruction from the SS. Scripture, we should proceed to read them under the guidance of the faith of Christ.
2Ti 3:16 All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice:
For all Scripture inspired by God is profitable both for the purpose of instructing the ignorant in the truths of faith, of rebutting the contrary errors, of correcting and rebuking corrupt morals, and of instructing and forming men to sanctity of life.
In the Greek it is, πασα γραφη θεοπνευστος και ωφελιμος προς διδασκαλιαν. &c., all Scripture inspired of God and useful for doctrine, &c. According to which, the word is, is understood so as to convey two assertions: first, all Scripture is inspired of God; and secondly. Scripture thus inspired is also useful for the purposes of instruction, &c. According to our Vulgate reading, there is only one assertion conveyed, viz., that all Scripture that is inspired of God, is profitable for instructing the ignorant in the truths of faith, for refuting the errors opposed to sound doctrine, for rebuking men of corrupt principles and morals, and for forming men to sanctity and Christian justice. These are the four great duties of a minister of religion, and for these the SS. Scripture is profitable. It is quite evident that this passage furnishes no argument whatever that the SS. Scripture, without Tradition, is the sole rule of faith; for, although SS. Scripture is profitable for these four ends, still it is not said to be sufficient. The Apostle requires the aid of Tradition (2nd Thessalonians, 2:15). Moreover, the Apostle here refers to the Scripture which Timothy was taught from his infancy. Now, a good part of the New Testament was not written in his boyhood; some of the Catholic Epistles were not written even when St. Paul wrote this; and none of the Books of the New Testament were then placed on the canon of the Scripture books. He refers, then, to the Scriptures of the Old Testament; and it the argument from this passage proved anything, it would prove too much, viz., that the Scriptures of the New Testament, not yet written, were not necessary for a rule of faith.
It is hardly necessary to remark that this passage furnishes no proof of the inspiration of the several books of SS. Scripture, even of those admitted to be such. According to the Vulgate reading of this verse (16), which Bloomfield assures us is adopted by all the most eminent critics after Theodoret, there is nothing said of the inspiration of any part of Scripture; all that is stated is simply this: that every portion of inspired Scripture is profitable for teaching, reproving, &c., without determining what these inspired Scriptures are. Nor is the question determined by the Greek reading either. For we are not told what is meant by “every Scripture,” of which it is said, according to this reading, that it “is inspired,” or what the Books or portion of “inspired Scripture” are.
Neither is there any argument here in favour of the indiscriminate reading of the Holy Scriptures. For, the advantage of reading them is here spoken of in reference to the ministers of the Gospel, which no one questions. Of these alone mention is made. “It is profitable” (verse 16). For whom? “That the man of God may be perfect,” &c.—See Paraphrase.
2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.
So that (by the dilligent and attentive study of the Sacred Scripture) the ministry of the Gospel becomes perfect, completely furnished with the means of performing every good work connected with the discharge of his sacred duties.
So, “that the man of God,” i.e., the minister of the Gospel charged with the care of souls, “may be perfect,” i.e., prepared in ail his duties, the meaning of which is more clearly expressed in the following words, “furnished to every good work,” i.e., supplied, from the study of SS. Scripture, with the abundant means of performing every work connected with the four great duties already mentioned. The study of the SS. Scripture is an imperative obligation on the Paster of souls, in order to be furnished with the means of dischargino all his duties. St. Paul exhorts Timothv to continue the study of them, although instructed in them from his infancy; he tells him to attend “to reading” them(1 Tim 4:13), and if this was necessary for Timothy, instructed by the Apostle himself, how much more so must it not be for others. For the proper and effective application of SS. Scriptures, without which religious discourses or sermons would, in many instances, pass for mere philosophical disquisitions or moral essays, the constant study and attentive perusal of the Sacred Volume is necessary.
2Ti 4:1 I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming and his kingdom:
I conjure thee before God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, who, in virtue of the power received from the Father, will judge all men, as well as those who are living immediately before the judgment, as those long before dead, at his second coming, and at the final manifestation of his kingly and undisputed power.
Having referred, in the preceding chapter, to the four great duties of the Episcopal office, he now earnestly conjures Timothy to devote himself to their fulfilment, and this obtestation is made in the most solemn form, invokmg God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ (before “Jesus Christ,” the words, the Lord, are placed in the Greek, to whom, as man, the “Father had given all judgnient,” and whom he constituted Judge of the living, &c.—Acts, 10.)—as witnesses, who will also be one day the Judges of his fidelity or neglect. For the meaning of the words, “the living and the dead,” (see First
Epistle to Thess 4:16.) “By his coming,” &c. This is not to be joined to the words, “I charge thee,” but to the words, “who shall judge,” as appears from the Greek particle corresponding with “by,” which signifies, that in this coming and manifestation of his glorious kingdom, when his enemies are trodden under foot, death among the rest (1 Cor 15:28), he shall judge all mankind. After the words, “I charge thee,” the particle, therefore, is added in the Greek, but it is now rejected by critics.
2Ti 4:2 Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine.
(I conjure thee therefore), to preach the word of God, to attend to this duty constantly and sedulously, both in season and out of season; to convince by arguments the gainsayers, the chide and rebuke the immoral, to entreat and exhort all to sanctity of life; and all this do with the utmost meekness and the most patient endurance, and the exhibition of sound doctrine.
This is what he thus solemnly conjures him to do:—It is, “preach the word” of
God. “Be instant,” i.e., zealously discharge this sacred duty, “in season, out of season;” which some understand to mean, constantly. The words also mean, that no opportunity, no matter how unseasonable or inconvenient to the minister of the Gospel himself, should be omitted, if there be a hope of advantage; or even though it should be unseasonable for the hearer, as to time, if there be hope of advantage to him, the same is to be said, because even then the word itself is seasonable. “Reprove,” “entreat,” “rebuke,” &c. In the Greek, ”rebuke” is before ”entreat;” thus:—”’Reprove, rebuke, entreat,” expressing the four-fold duty for which he said, in the precedmg chapter, that the Scripture is profitable. “In all patience.” The Greek is, in all long suffering, i.e., with the most perfect meekness; for, correction, or instruction, if appearing to emanate from passion rather than from charity, will lose all effect. “And doctrine ;” men wish to be convinced, and led by reason and argument. The great duty, then, of the minister of religion is, to “rebuke, and entreat,” alternately, according to circumstances. Hence, the rigour with which the Council of Trent enjoins on Bishops, under the heaviest sanction of moral guilt, to discharge the great duty of preaching—(SS. v., 2, 2, and SS. xxiv., 4, de Ref.)