RETAIN THE STANDARD: eche
3:14; Pr 3:18,21; 4:4 5 6 7 8,13; 23:23; Php 1:27; 1Th 5:21; Titus 1:9;
Heb 3:6; 4:14; 10:23; Jude 1:3; Rev 2:25; 3:3,11)
the true teachings you heard from me (ICB)
Be holding [the] pattern (ALT)
on to the pattern (NLT)
Have an outline of sound words (Darby)
Keep the form of those true words (BBE)
Retain (2192) (echo)
means to hold, keep in one's possession. Hold in one's charge for
Paul is saying "Timothy
don't lose your grip on the standard."
Spurgeon adds that...
This is the main burden of the
apostle's pleading with Timothy, "Hold fast." We have equal need of the
same exhortation, for this is an evil day, and thousands hold everything
or nothing as the winds of opinion may change.
Paul uses the
present imperative indicating that this is a command of vital
importance for Timothy calling for habitual action (present tense) on Timothy's part --
continually hold the "outline" (see "standard"
below) taught by Paul. The battle for truth is a "mind game". Our memory
retains those truths that have been suggested to our mind. It can be
very tempting to let go of what we once learned to take hold of a
seemingly "new", "more exciting", more "palatable" truth but Paul warned
Timothy in (2Ti 4:2,4-note) and forewarned is forearmed.
Hold the sound
and their "disinfectant" qualities will hold you fast!
Solomon the wisest man in the OT
reminds us about "new, exciting" truths declaring that
There is nothing
new under the sun (Eccl
So often today's "new truth" turns out to be yesterday's
heresy, simply redressed.
One of the best ways for saints today to hold
fast God's word is to hide it in our hearts, memorizing (See
Memorizing His Word) and meditating (See
Meditating on His Word) upon it (Ps
119:9, 10, 11).
When was the last time you memorized
a passage of Scripture?
Don't put off laboring
and striving in this vital spiritual discipline (1Ti 4:7 8 9 10-see notes
because your spiritual life and health depend on it. And don't say
you're too old or it's too late to do this now. You are never too old
and it's never too late.
Adhere to the
standard in opposition to all heresies and false doctrine, which weaken
and corrupt the Christian faith as shown in corrupt, ungodly behavior.
In his first epistle Paul had
similarly exhorted Timothy to
remain on at Ephesus, in order that
you may instruct (paraggello does not mean to teach, but to
command and thus demands obedience from an inferior to an order from a
superior) certain men not to teach strange doctrines
(heterodidaskaleo = heteros = another of a different kind,
doctrine which poses as true Christian doctrine, but which is
diametrically opposed to the true teachings of Christianity + didaskalos = teacher)" (1Ti
While the gospel is contained in the
written Word, the Bible, at the same time it is preserved and
communicated in and through the lives of God’s people. Many people never
read the Bible, but they read your life. You are to personify the good
news of Jesus Christ in what you believe and how you live. While in
2Ti 1:12 the emphasis is on whom you believe, in 2Ti 1:13
14 the emphasis is on what you believe. Satan is
relentless in attacking the truth of the gospel, because “it is the
power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Ro 1:16-note).
from hupotupóo = to draw a sketch or first draft as painters when
they begin a picture)
is literally an "undertype" and means a model for imitation, an outline, a sketch or model used by an
artist. In literature it described the rough draft forming the basis of
a fuller exposition.
is emphatic (positioned first in the Greek sentence for emphasis). Paul
wants to emphasize the vital importance of "the standard".
Our English word prototype conveys the same picture, for a prototype is
an original model on which something is patterned or a first
full-scale and usually functional form of a new type or design of a
construction. The "gospel" is the prototype upon which which all
preaching and teaching should be founded.
Larry Richards has an
insightful note regarding personal application writing that...
In NT times, hypotyposis was
used of a floor plan to guide a builder or of a first draft of
written material used to guide fuller development. Paul's point is that
life is to be founded on Scripture's revelation of reality. But each
person and culture must move on to construction, not violating the
principles laid down, but constantly seeking to flesh out the divine
L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency) (Bolding added)
Paul used this same word in his first
epistle writing that
I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of
sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an
example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
(NIV) (1Ti 1:19).
Hupotuposis referred to the outline or model used by an artist.
So just as the artist has a model or an initial sketch before them, so
Timothy is to keep before him the outline which he has heard from Paul
and never depart from it. The idea is analogous to the writer's "rough
draft" which forms the basis of a fuller exposition of a writing.
This picturesque word thus speaks of a pattern by which
one can maintain the sameness of a thing and without which the original
work (in this case the gospel) would be corrupted or distorted over
Paul had earlier conveyed to Timothy an outline of doctrinal
beliefs that were important. He now wanted Timothy to use them
as a model in his own ministry. There was a definite outline of
doctrine in the early church, a standard by which teaching was tested.
If Timothy changed this outline or abandoned it, then he would have
nothing by which to test other teachers and preachers. It would be
similar to the builder of a house discarding his "plumb line" and
just "eye balling" the frame of the house to see if the corners were
"close enough" to perpendicular. On the other hand, a wall built with a plumb line is a perpendicular wall with mechanical correctness
and solidity, a wall built to last. Paul then in so many words told
Timothy, to retain the "plumb line" which you can "entrust
to faithful men who will be able to teach others"
thereby building up strong, solid saints. As we approach closer to the
end of this present age and the glorious return of our Lord, saints need
to hold fast to the life giving gospel of Christ Jesus (2Ti 1:1-note;
Paul uses the root word tupos
(model, pattern or mold) writing to the Roman saints who had become
from the heart to that form (tupos) of teaching to which
you were committed (delivered or entrusted). (Ro 6:17-note)
Hiebert makes an interesting practical application of the "outline"
Timothy was to retain stating that
the validity of a minister's message lies in its adherence to the great
verities of the Christian revelation." He goes on to quote Lipscomb
"None can be too careful in stating the truths of the Scriptures in the
language of the inspired writers. When men cannot convey their thoughts
in the words of the Scriptures, it is generally because they do not hold
sound doctrine." You might re-read that last sentence, especially if you
are a preacher or teacher of God's Word.
MacDonald gives us an excellent illustration of what it means for
us today to retain the standard:
It is not just that he is to be loyal to the truth of God’s word, but
that he is to cling to the very expressions by which this truth is
conveyed. Perhaps an illustration of this might help. In our day, it is
sometimes suggested that we should abandon such old-fashioned
expressions as “being born again” or “the blood of Jesus.” People want
to use more sophisticated language. But there is a subtle danger here.
In abandoning the scriptural mode of expression, they often abandon the
very truths which are communicated by these expressions. (MacDonald,
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or
The only other Scriptural use of
hupotuposis is in Paul's first epistle to Timothy where he
It is a trustworthy statement,
deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 And yet for this reason
(term of conclusion
- When you see this phrase always and stop and ask what is the
conclusion? Or "for what reason?") I found mercy, in
order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His
perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in
Him for eternal life. (1Timothy 1:15 16)
Thayer explains the use of
hupotuposis in first Timothy writing that it was
for an example of those who
should hereafter believe, i.e., to show by the example of my conversion
that the same grace which I had obtained would not be wanting also to
those who should hereafter believe.
William Barclay adds
Paul uses a vivid picture. He says
that what happened to him was a kind of outline-sketch of what was going
to happen to those who would accept Christ in the days to come. The word
he uses is hupotuposis which means an outline, a sketch-plan, a
first draft, a preliminary model. It is as if Paul were saying, “Look
what Christ has done for me! If someone like me can be saved, there is
hope for everyone.” Suppose a man was seriously ill and had to go
through a dangerous operation, it would be the greatest encouragement to
him if he met and talked with someone who had undergone the same
operation and had emerged completely cured. Paul did not shrinkingly
conceal his record; he blazoned it abroad, that others might take
courage and be filled with hope that the grace which had changed him
could change them too. (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press
John MacArthur commenting
on this passage in first Timothy writes that
It was for this reason (the fact that
Paul had been one of the worst sinners) that Paul found
mercy. God didn’t save him merely to get him out of hell or into heaven.
Nor did He save him to preach the gospel or write the epistles; God
could have had others do that. The purpose of salvation, whether Paul’s
or ours, is to display God’s grace, power, and patience and produce a
true worshiper of God (John 4:21 22 23 24). It is for His glory
primarily, our benefit is secondary. It was through saving Paul that
Jesus Christ could most clearly demonstrate His perfect patience.
Makrothumia (patience) means to be patient with people. Paul’s point is
that if the Lord was patient with the worst of sinners, no one is beyond
the reach of His grace. As an example for those who would believe in Him
for eternal life, Paul was living proof that God can save any sinner. He
was the hupotuposis, the model, type, or pattern. Those
who fear that God cannot save them would do well to consider the case of
John: 1Timothy Moody Press) (Bolding added)
OF SOUND WORDS: hugiainonton
(PAPMPG) logon: [1Ti 1:10, 6:3, 2Ti 4:3, 4:4 Titus 1:9]
of the wholesome wordes (Geneva)
right teaching (NLT)
Sound (5198) (hugiaino
gives us our English word hygiene which refers to "clean
or healthy practices" which promote good health!) (Click word study on
means healthy, sound, wholesome, free from flaw, defect or error and
emphasizes the absence of disease, weakness, or malfunction.
Hugiano is translated as "good (physical)
health" in (3Jn 1:2, cf Lk 5:31)
and in the present context refers to words which produce
good spiritual health. False "ear tickling" teaching (2Ti
by contrast leads to spiritual sickness at best and eternal death at
"Unhealthy" teaching composed of unsound
words will manifest itself in ungodly behavior, because what
(healthy or unhealthy doctrine) one is taught and what one believes affects how one
and falsehood will always be discerned by the fruit they produce (Mt
God’s truth produces godliness (Titus 1:1-note).
The transformation wrought by the intake of sound words is
visibly manifest by holy conduct.
Paul did not tell
Timothy he need to hold forth with a good "sound" but to hold fast to
sound words! We are not called to please the masses but to afflict the
comfortable and comfort the afflicted with God's sound words. Any
message that does not conform to Paul's words (and the rest of the
Scripture), no matter how good the teacher might sound or how large
their following is to be assiduously avoided!
Barnes describes sound words as
words conducing to a healthful state of the church; that is, doctrines
tending to produce order and a due observance of the proprieties of
life; doctrines leading to contentment, and sober industry, and the
patient endurance of evils.
Henry translates sound words as healing
words noting that "there is healing virtue in the Word of
The Psalmist records that in answer to Israel's cry of
sent His Word and healed them.
(Ps 107:19, 20)
commenting on Psalm 107:20 writes that...
Man is not healed by medicine alone,
but by the word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God is man restored
from going down to the grave. A word will do it, a word has done it
thousands of times... The word of the Lord has a great delivering power;
he has but to speak and the armies of death flee in an instant. Sin sick
souls should remember the power of the Word, and be much in hearing it
and meditating upon it.
Christ the Word is the essential
cure. He heals the guilt, habit, depression, and evil results of sin.
For every form of malady Christ has healing; hence preachers should
preach him much, and all meditate much upon him. The word in the Book is
the instrumental cure: its teachings, doctrines, precepts, promises,
encouragements, invitations, examples. The word of the Lord by the
Holy Spirit is the applying cure. He leads us to believe. He is to be
sought by the sick soul. He is to be relied upon by those who would
bring others to the Great Physician.
Paul says hold tight to words that
are pure and uncorrupted because sound words ("healthy doctrine")
produce "holistic health" manifest by wholly holy lives.
should always breed spiritual health and vitality wherever it goes.
brings no honor to the Living God. Paul is reminding Timothy that in sound words
(here tantamount to the gospel), we have God’s true standard which is
the only divinely inspired, divinely revealed, absolute, unique,
perfect, and sufficient truth which provides everything necessary for
salvation (justification or past tense salvation) and for living out the
saved life (sanctification or present tense salvation - see
Three Tenses of
Adam Clarke has sage advice on sound words:
No man was left to invent a religion for his own use, and after his own
mind. God alone knows that with which God can be pleased. If God did not
give a revelation of himself, the inventions of man, in religious
things, would be endless error, involving itself in contortions of
unlimited confusion. God gives, in his mercy to man, a form of
or doctrines; a perfect plan and sketch of the original building; fair
and well defined outlines of every thing which concerns the present and
eternal welfare of man, and his own glory.
alludes to sound words in his famous statement that
It is blessed, to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last,
you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your spirit is flavored
with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very
essence of the Bible flows from you.
Dr M R De Haan founder of
Radio Bible Class warned...
Be on guard against any tampering
with the Word, whether disguised as a search for truth, or a scholarly
attempt at apparently hidden meanings; and beware of the confusion
created by the senseless rash of new versions, translations, editions,
and improvements upon the tried and tested Bible of our fathers and
WHICH YOU HAVE HEARD FROM ME:
on par emou ekousas (2SAAI):(2Ti 2:2, Php 4:9)
which words from me
personally you have heard (Wuest)
which you have heard
my lips (WNT)
Have heard is
aorist tense which
in this context indicates a past completed action of a
real event (indicative
mood). Compare similar phrases "the things which you have
heard from me in the presence of many witnesses" (see note
2 Timothy 2:2)
and "you followed my teaching..." (see note
2 Timothy 3:10)
Paul exhorts Timothy to hold fast the pattern of the sound words
committed to him. That is, he is to hold to the doctrinal phraseology he
received from the great apostle. Particular words are to be retained and
used so that the doctrinal statements of the truth may remain accurate
and a norm for future teachers and preachers. This is vitally connected
with the doctrine of verbal inspiration which holds that the Bible
writers wrote down in God-chosen words, the truth given by revelation.
IN THE FAITH AND LOVE WHICH ARE
IN CHRIST JESUS: en pistei kai agape te en Christo Iesou:
faith and love which are
ours in union with Christ Jesus
How was Timothy to cling to the sound words he had heard from Paul?
Was it to be a formal, lifeless retention of a rote formula and rigid
Clearly not and so Paul adds "in the
faith and love" which mark the sphere in which the pattern of sound
words must be held.
How one maintains
orthodoxy is as important as the content of orthodoxy itself.
Just as Timothy is called to suffer for the gospel not in his own
strength but "according to the power of God" (2Ti 1:8-note),
so also this faith and love are not inherent
qualities but rather supernatural gifts given to those who are “in
Christ Jesus”. (See related topics:
in Christ Jesus)
Timothy’s faith and love were fruit of his union with Jesus Christ. Timothy's
faith was energized in the faith found in Christ Jesus and the life that
flows from Him. Timothy's love bathed in the love of Christ Jesus was to
be intelligent and purposeful, loving the lost even as the Father so
loved the world. Note that genuine
in Christ Jesus is zealous for the truth (cf Jn 2:15 16 17)
and is not indifferent to the promotion of doctrines which are unhealthy
explains this section:
The teaching is to be held, preached, and practiced, not as a mere
schedule of conduct, however excellent, but with the strong conviction
of faith and the fervor of love.
Christ Jesus is the Source and Fountain of both faith and love.
When we defend God’s Word in a
self-righteous, unloving spirit, the resulting controversy and
opposition are not caused wholly by the offense of the truth itself but
also by the offensive and unspiritual way in which we proclaim it. We
are to defend God’s Word in the faith, that is, with the right attitude
of confidence toward God; and we are to defend it in love, with the
right attitude of kindness and compassion toward unbelievers and toward
poorly taught and immature believers. “Speaking the truth in love, we
are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ”
Although we must not have a doubting or a dead orthodoxy, neither should
we have a loveless, cold, and insensitive orthodoxy.
comments that the idea is that Timothy is to
Hold these truths with sincere faith in the Lord Jesus, and with that
love which is the best evidence of attachment to Him.
Steven Cole explains that...
holding to sound doctrine is not
enough. How you hold to sound doctrine matters greatly! First, you must
hold to sound doctrine in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. You must
truly believe what the Bible teaches, to the degree that it filters down
into your everyday life. Jesus said (Luke 6:46), “Why do you call Me,
‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Genuine faith always results in
obedience to Christ.
Second, you must hold to sound
doctrine in the love that is in Christ Jesus. Biblical love is not
syrupy sentiment, but rather a commitment to seek the highest good of
the one loved. It is not mere words, but also good deeds (1Jn 3:18).
I have known men who hold to sound doctrine, but they do not hold it in
genuine love towards others. Rather, they use their knowledge of the
truth to prove that they are right and to put down those who are wrong.
That is just pride, not love. But, as Paul says (2Ti 2:24-note),
we must not be quarrelsome, but kind, patient, and gentle towards those
who do not know the truth.
An Atheist’s Point Of View -
Three young men who say they are atheists decided to “sample” and report
on several churches in their city. One of these men said, “There is
something other than teaching that is appealing to people. We didn’t see
a lot of doctrine. . . . The appeal was mostly the community. The
content in most churches isn’t nearly as important as the packaging.”
The three atheists offered this explanation for why thousands of people
in their area attend church each Sunday: The attraction stems more from
a person’s Christian identity than from what the religion teaches.
Their experience agrees with the observation of author A. W. Tozer, who
said, “Increasing numbers of [Christians] are becoming ashamed to be
found unequivocally on the side of truth. They say they believe, but
their beliefs have been so diluted as to be impossible of clear
The apostle Paul knew whom he believed, and he instructed Timothy to
“hold fast” to the truth he had been taught (2Timothy 1:12 13). We too
need to hold tightly to our beliefs based on the unfailing, God-inspired
Bible. What we believe about God is more crucial than any feeling we get
by being in church. Tozer calls us to stand “firm on the Word of God
that lives and abides forever.” —Anne Cetas (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Since by faith I have clear vision,
Your blest Word is rich and new;
Men with eyes by sin distorted
Cannot all its treasures view. —Bosch
Don’t be a Christian in name only.