7 Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. NLT
7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.NKJV
II. Godly Shepherds (4:6–16): Paul lists some dos and don’ts concerning Christian ministry.
A. The don’ts (4:7a, 12a, 14)
1. Don’t waste time arguing over foolish ideas and silly myths (4:7a).
2. Don’t be intimidated because of your youth (4:12a).
3. Don’t neglect your spiritual gift (4:14).
B. The dos (4:6, 7b–11, 12b–13, 15–16)
1. Warn the church members concerning apostasy (4:6).
2. Keep spiritually fit (4:7b–11).
3. Be a godly role model in all you do (4:12b).
4. Continue to publicly read, teach, and preach the Word of God (4:13).
5. Give yourself wholly to the ministry (4:15).
6. Keep close check on your own life (4:16).
4:7 reject profane and old wives’ fables. In addition to being committed to God’s Word (see note on v. 6) 4:6 nourished … words of faith … good doctrine. Continual feeding on the truths of Scripture is essential to the spiritual health of all Christians (2 Tim. 3:16,17), but especially of spiritual leaders like Timothy. Only by reading the Word, studying it, meditating on it, and mastering its contents can a pastor fulfill his mandate (2 Tim. 2:15). Timothy had been doing so since childhood (2 Tim. 3:15), and Paul urged him to continue (cf. v. 16; 2 Tim. 3:14). “Words of faith” is a general reference to Scripture, God’s revealed truth. “Good doctrine” indicates the theology Scripture teaches.
, believers must avoid all false teaching. Paul denounced such error as “profane” (worldly; the opposite of what is holy) “fables” (muthos, from which the Eng. word “myths” derives), fit only for “old wives” (a common epithet denoting something fit only for the uneducated and philosophically unsophisticated). See notes on 2 Tim. 2:14–18.
2:14 strive about words. Arguing with false teachers, i.e., deceivers who use human reason to subvert God’s Word, is not only foolish (Prov. 14:7) and futile (Matt. 7:6), but dangerous (vv. 16,17; cf. v. 23). This is the first of 3 warnings to avoid useless arguments (see notes on vv. 16,23). See notes on 1 Tim. 4:6,7; 6:3–5; 2 Pet. 1–3. ruin. The Gr. word means “overturned,” or “overthrown.” It appears only one other time in the NT (2 Pet. 2:6), where it describes the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Because it replaces the truth with lies, false teaching brings spiritual catastrophe to those who heed it. The ruin can be eternal.
2:15 Be diligent. This word denotes zealous persistence in accomplishing a goal. Timothy, like all who preach or teach the Word, was to give his maximum effort to impart God’s Word completely, accurately, and clearly to his hearers. This is crucial to counter the disastrous effects of false teaching (vv. 14,16,17). rightly dividing. Lit. “cutting it straight”—a reference to the exactness demanded by such trades as carpentry, masonry, and Paul’s trade of leather working and tentmaking. Precision and accuracy are required in biblical interpretation, beyond all other enterprises because the interpreter is handling God’s Word. Anything less is shameful. the word of truth. All of Scripture in general (John 17:17), and the gospel message in particular (Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5).
2:16 shun profane and idle babblings. See notes on v. 14; 1 Tim. 6:20; cf. Titus 3:9. Such destructive heresy leads only to “more ungodliness.” Heresy can’t save or sanctify. This is Paul’s second such warning. Cf. vv. 14,23.
2:17 cancer. The word refers to a disease which spreads rapidly in a deadly manner. The metaphor emphasizes the insidious danger of false teaching. It attacks and consumes one’s life. Hymenaeus. See note on 1 Tim. 1:20. Philetus. Alexander’s replacement (1 Tim. 1:20) as Hymenaeus’ accomplice.
2:18 the resurrection is already past. Like the false teachers who troubled the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:12), Hymenaeus and Philetus denied the reality of believers’ bodily resurrection. They probably taught that believers’ spiritual identification with Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom. 6:4,5,8) was the only resurrection they would experience and that had already happened. Such heretical teaching reflects the contemporary Greek philosophical view that matter was evil and spirit was good. overthrow the faith. This speaks of those whose faith was not genuine (cf. Matt. 24:24). Genuine saving faith cannot be finally and completely overthrown (see note on v. 12). False, non-saving faith is common (cf. 4:10). See notes on Matt. 7:21–27; 13:18–22; John 2:23–25; 6:64–66; 8:31; 1 John 2:19.
exercise … toward godliness. “Godliness” (a proper attitude and response toward God; see note on 2:2) is the prerequisite from which all effective ministry flows. “Exercise” is an athletic term denoting the rigorous, self-sacrificing training an athlete undergoes. Spiritual self-discipline is the path to godly living (cf. 1 Cor. 9:24–27).
MacArthur, J. J. 1997, c1997. The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) . Word Pub.: Nashville