Amplified: But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also [utensils] of wood and earthenware, and some for honorable and noble [use] and some for menial and ignoble [use]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
NLT: In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: In any big household there are naturally not only gold and silver vessels but wooden and earthenware ones as well. Some are used for the highest purposes and some for the lowest. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Now, in a great house there are not only utensils of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of baked clay, also some which are highly prized and others which are treated with contempt. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: And in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some to honour, and some to dishonour:
NOW IN A LARGE HOUSE THERE ARE NOT ONLY GOLD AND SILVER VESSELS BUT ALSO VESSELS OF WOOD AND OF EARTHENWARE: En megale de oikia ouk estin monon skeue chrusa kai argura alla kai xulina kai ostrakina: (1Cor 3:9,16,17;Eph 2:22-note; 1Ti 3:15; Heb 3:2-6-notes; 1Pe 2:5-note) (Ex 27:3; Ezra 1:6; 6:5; Lam 4:2; Da 5:2; 2Cor 4:7)
Henry Alford introduces this important section noting that "Those who are truly the Lord’s are known to Him and depart from iniquity: but in the visible church there are many unworthy members. This is illustrated by the following similitude. (2Timothy 2 Commentary)
Now (de) could also be translated but (KJV - See Alford's comment below) although it does not appear from the context Paul is drawing out a contrast but is expanding on the firm foundation (most feel this is a description of the church) he says is laid which includes those who abstain from wickedness.
Henry Alford - "But (contrast to the preceding definition of the Lord’s people)"
Steven Cole introduces his sermon on this passage with an pithy illustration/application...
A large (great) house - NET has "Now in a wealthy home".
Phillip Towner introduces his comments on 2Ti 2:20 - With a shift of metaphor, the need to heed the warning is reinforced. First, the image of the traditional household is introduced as a way of discussing the “mixed” nature of the church (2Ti 2:20). But the view expressed in 2Ti 2:20 is hardly one of resignation, for by extending the metaphor Paul issues a second call to Timothy (and believers; cf. 2Ti 2:19d) to separate from whatever impurity exists in the church in order to dedicate himself to God (2Ti 2:21). Although the images employed in the metaphorical depiction are not particularly complex or abstract, the primary question for interpretation in 2ti 2:20 revolves around the implications of the picture and the extent to which the imagery is to be pressed. While 1 Tim 3:15 drew on the “household” concept (oikos) to depict the church as a community in which all members have responsibilities, here the image is of the building (oikia) in which the members of the household would dwell. In the present passage, the metaphor of “the foundation” (v. 19) has prepared the way for this metaphor. The adjective “large” (lit. “great”; see on 1 Tim 3:16) sets the house in this picture apart from ordinary houses, and the following reference to vessels of gold and silver certainly suggests that the house of a wealthy householder is envisaged. There is little doubt that the house stands for the church....The real reason for introducing the image of the house is to describe the “articles” within it. (The New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Spurgeon expands on this phrase writing...
House (3614) (oikia from oikos = house) is literally one's residence, home or abode. Oikia is an inhabited edifice, building or dwelling. By extension, oikia describes that which one possesses (property, possession, goods) as in Mk 12:40.
Oikia describes the house where Jesus was born (Mt 2:11), the place which a lamp is to light (Mt 5:15-note), the place Peter's mother-in-law was ill (Mt 8:14), the believer's future home, our Father's house (Jn 14:2), and in short oikia described the place in which much of Jesus' ministry took place (see below and observe the uses of oikia in the Gospels).
Oikia when used as a figure of speech is used to describe the human body as the habitation of the soul and contrasts the present state of our body with the future blessed condition of our glorified body (2Co 5:1). Jesus uses oikia as a figure of speech to describe where one chooses to build their "spiritual" house, the foundation on which one places their trust or faith (Mt 7:24, 25-note, Mt 7:26; 27-note).
Oikia is used to signify a household or family (Mt 10:13, 12:25) = as a metonymy (figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated - e.g., as “crown” in “lands belonging to the crown” where crown stands for the "king" or ruler of the land)
Oikia in the present context is used as a figure of speech or word picture (metaphor) by which Paul describes the body of Christ, the Church, an interpretation with which most observers are in agreement.
J Goetzmann says that in Classic Greek the root word oikos "is attested as early as Mycenaean Greek and has been handed down from Homer on. It means both the dwelling place and the structure. Oikia, from Herodotus on, denotes the dwelling, the house. Originally the two words were differentiated in meaning, in that oikia denoted the dwelling place, and oikos the whole house, the premises, the family property, and even the inhabitants of the house. This original distinction was maintained in Attic law, where oikos meant the inheritance and oikia the house itself. Later, particularly after the LXX, the distinctions were not maintained and the words were used synonymously. In popular speech oikos meant any kind of house, but frequently also a particular house and even a temple. In such cases the divine name attached to oikos indicated the god to whom the temple was dedicated. But the word was also used in the metaphorical sense. It denoted the family, the property and other similar concepts connected with the house itself. (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan)
Mounce adds that " In the legal terminology of pre-biblical Greek, oikos was distinct from oikia, the former referring to property left by a person after death and the latter referring only to a dwelling or house. By the time of the NT the terms are practically synonymous and most commonly denote a place where a person lives either literally (Mt 2:11; 7:24–27; 9:7; Mk 7:30) or figuratively in the sense of a family grouping (Mt 13:57; Mk 6:4; Jn 4:53; 1 Cor. 1:16; 2 Tim. 1:16; 4:19). (Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan)
Oikia - 93x in 84v - Mt 2:11; Mt 5:15-note; Mt 7:24, 25-note, Mt 7:26; 27-note; Mt 8:6, 14; 9:10, 23, 28; 10:12, 13, 14; 12:25, 29; 13:1, 36, 57; 17:25; 19:29; 24:17, 43; 26:6; Mark 1:29; 2:15; 3:25, 27; 6:4, 10; 7:24; 9:33; 10:10, 29, 30; 12:40; 13:15, 34, 35; 14:3; Luke 4:38; 5:29; 6:48, 49; 7:6, 37, 44; 8:27, 51; 9:4; 10:5, 7; 15:8, 25; 17:31; 18:29; 20:47; 22:10, 11, 54; Jn 4:53; 8:35; 11:31; 12:3; 14:2; Acts 4:34; 9:11, 17; 10:6, 17, 32; 11:11; 12:12; 16:32; 17:5; 18:7; 1Co 11:22; 16:15; 2Co 5:1; Phil 4:22-note; 1Ti 5:13; 2Ti 2:20-note; 2Ti 3:6-note; 2Jn 1:10. NAS = home(6), house(75), household(5), households(1), houses(7).
The NT has other passages that picture the church as a house, dwelling or building...
Gold and silver vessels...vessels of wood and of earthenware - The interpretation of these two general groups lacks a clear consensus.
(1) Some believe Paul refers to true and false believers (professors)...
The Holman NT Commentary explains "a large house" - Paul drew another word picture to illustrate the distinctions between the true believer and the false follower. He took his imagery from his readers' understanding of an ordinary house. Such a house would have a variety of utensils and wares, some of gold and silver, and others of wood and clay. Correspondingly, the gold and silver are for noble purposes, while the wood and clay are reserved for ignoble use. Basically, a person does not use china cups to feed the dog. Jesus foretold the same truth. The church is a mixed group, some true to their Lord, others impostors (Mt 13:24-30). Though God knows who belongs to Him and though true disciples demonstrate a life reflective of His holiness, scattered among them are unbelievers who deny the truth by their doctrine and their lives. These are the wood and clay within God's earthly house. Their presence should not disturb or discourage those who are faithful. (Holman New Testament Commentary)
Steven Cole agrees writing that "Paul uses the illustration of a large house that has different kinds of vessels. The gold and silver vessels are kept clean so that they may be used for honorable purposes, such as dinner parties. The wood and earthenware vessels are used for dishonorable purposes, perhaps in the kitchen or to carry out garbage or human waste. They often get broken and are cheaply replaced. It would be easy to misapply Paul’s point here. If you took his illustration to its logical conclusion, you could say that the dishonorable vessels serve a legitimate function and thus are just as necessary as the gold vessels. But that’s not his point. Rather, the large house represents the professing or visible church. Some who associate with the church are truly born again. Others, such as the false teachers Hymenaeus and Philetus, are probably not born again. They are the vessels for dishonor. Paul is saying that no one should be a vessel for dishonor. To put it another way, he is saying that God isn’t going to use a garbage pail life to serve the pure gospel to a hungry world. Can you imagine being a guest at a wealthy home, where you’re seated around a magnificent table? The kitchen door swings open and the cook comes out with a garbage pail and starts dishing the food out of the pail. Even so, God isn’t going to use dirty lives to serve the good news of Christ to the world. (2 Timothy 2:20-22 The Person God Uses)
Pulpit Commentary - The object of the figure of the various vessels in the "great house" is to show that, though every one that names the Name of the Lord ought to depart from unrighteousness, yet we must not be surprised if it is not so, and if there are found in the Church some professing Christians whose practice is quite inconsistent with their profession. Perhaps even the vilest members of the visible Church perform some useful function, howbeit they do not mean it. (2 Timothy 2 - The Pulpit Commentaries)
John Calvin - Yet there can be no doubt that Paul’s object is to shew that we ought not to think it strange, that bad men are mixed with the good, which happens chiefly in the Church. (2 Timothy 2 - John Calvin's Commentaries on the Bible)
Ellicott - In a great house, argues St. Paul—still thinking of the Church, but changing the foundation image for that of a great house—are always found two distinct kinds of vessels—the precious and enduring, and also the comparatively valueless and lasting for out a little while; the first kind are destined for honour, the second for dishonour. In St. Paul’s mind, when he wrote these words, the natural sequel to his far-reaching and suggestive comparison of the “foundation” (2 Timothy 2:19) were the words of his Master, who had once compared His Church to a drag-net of wide sweep, including in its take something of every kind out of the vast sea-world. The “net”—His Church—was together and to hold in its meshes its great take—the good and the bad, the useful and the useless—till the end of the world. So St. Paul writes how in a great house there must be these varieties of vessels—some for honour, others for dishonour. By these vessels the genuine and spurious members of the Church are represented as forming two distinct classes; and in these classes different degrees of honour and dishonour besides exist—the vessels of gold and silver, the vessels of wood and of earth. To Timothy these comparisons would at once suggest the true and false teachers in his Church at Ephesus; but the reference is a far broader one, and includes all members of the Church of Christ. The enduring nature of the metals gold and silver are contrasted with the perishable nature of the other materials, wood and earth. The former will remain a part of the Church for ever; the latter will only endure until the end of the world. (2 Timothy 2 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)
Wiersbe takes it not so much as referring to the individual members of the Church but of teachers writing that Paul "is not distinguishing between kinds of Christians, but rather is making a distinction between true teachers of the Word and the false teachers he described
Wuest - Paul has been speaking of the true Church, the Mystical Body of Christ made up of believers only. In this verse he is referring to the visible organized Church on earth, made up of saved (honorable) and unsaved (dishonorable vessels).
Hendricksen - Timothy must not be surprised about the fact that there is such a thing as defection! He must bear in mind that it is with the visible church as it is with “a large house.” Such a large house contains all kinds of utensils; that is, furniture, vases, pots and pans, etc., in short, all those material objects which one expects to find in a mansion, the entire “household contents”; hence, not only gold and silver but also wooden and earthen vessels; not only articles to be kept and displayed, but also those which are taken to the dump or junk-yard when they have served their purpose. In passing, note that Paul must say large house, because a small house might not contain gold and silver utensils.—Similarly, the visible church, as it manifests itself on earth, contains true believers (some more faithful, comparable to gold; others less faithful, comparable to silver) and hypocrites. Cf. Mt. 13:24–30: wheat and tares. The genuine members are destined for honor (see Mt. 25:34–40); the others, for dishonor (see Mt. 25:41–45). Cf. 1Sa 2:30b; Ro 9:21. (Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles)
Lock - The object is twofold, to teach Timothy patience with varieties of character within the Church, cf. 1 Co 12:20–26, but mainly to warn him against contact with all impurity and false teaching. (2 Timothy 2 Commentary)
Marshall - Consequently (Ed: After giving a lengthy discussion of alternative interpretations), the metaphorical application of the picture to the church appears to be simply in terms of people who hold to the truth and to godliness and are therefore useful and destined for honour in contrast to those who hold to error and ungodly conduct and therefore are useless and destined for judgement. (Marshall, I. Howard; Towner, Philip H., A critical and exegetical commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, T&T Clark International, International Critical Commentary)
(2) Others believe that Paul is referring to two classes of believers...
Nelson's Study Bible interprets Paul's metaphor of a large house "to describe two categories of believers. Gold and silver represent believers who are faithful and useful in serving Christ. Wood and clay represent believers who fail to honor the Lord (1Co 3:12, 13, 14, 15). (Bolding added)
MacArthur says that "Articles made of gold or silver are more valuable and presentable than those of wood or earthenware. The former would be prominently displayed as decorations or used for serving important guests as a gesture of honor. The inferior articles, on the other hand, were strictly utilitarian. They were common, plain, replaceable, and some were used for garbage and human waste of the house. They were used for those duties that were never seen and were kept out of sight as much as possible. Honor and dishonor do not refer to true and false Christians, respectively. Jesus makes clear in the parable of the wheat and tares (Matt. 13:24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30) and in His teaching about the sheep and goats judgment of the nations (Matt. 25:31-46) that the visible church on earth will contain both unbelievers and believers until He returns and orders the final separation. But Paul is not speaking about that distinction. (Ro 12:3, 6-see notes Ro12:3; 6, 1Co 12:17,18)... Honor and dishonor therefore refer to the ways in which genuine believers are found useful to the Lord in fulfilling the work to which He has called them. In this sense, all believers should be, but are not always, vessels of honor. (MacArthur, J. 2 Timothy. Chicago: Moody Press)
Expositor's Greek Testament - It is to be observed that St. Paul expresses here a milder and more hopeful view of the unworthy elements in the Church than he does in the parallel passage in Romans 9:21-22. There “the vessels unto dishonour” are “vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction”. Here they are all at least in the Great House, and all for some use, even if for less honourable purposes than those served by the vessels of gold and silver; and the next verse suggests that it is perhaps possible for that which had been a “vessel unto dishonour” to become fit for honourable use in the Master’s personal service. We are reminded of the various qualities of superstructure mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:12, “gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble”. (2 Timothy 2 - The Expositor's Greek Testament)
Alexander Maclaren expands on and qualifies the idea of two classes of believers
Harry Ironside feels that this refers to two classes of Christians writing that "Christians are like those vessels. There is a sad mixed condition in Christendom today, saved and unsaved, often united in the same church-fellowship. There are those who profess to know the Lord, and those who have never confessed Him; and people wonder why there is so little power and blessing. If you want to please the Lord who has made you His own, you must separate yourself from all that is unclean. Then you will be "a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work."
Albert Barnes - The application here seems to be, that in the church it is to be presumed that there will be a great variety of gifts and attainments, and that we are no more to expect that all will be alike, than we are that all the vessels in a large house will be made of gold. (2 Timothy 2 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible)
Regardless of one's interpretation, in the following verses it is clear that God's desire for all believers is that they should be vessels of honor.
AND SOME TO HONOR SOME TO DISHONOR: Kai a men eis timen a de eis atimian: (Ro 9:21, 22, 23-notes)
To reiterate, there are primarily two ways one could interpret this passage. (1) There is a large house, the church, in which there are some believers who are honorable and useful and some who are dishonorable and useless to the Lord. Although this is a possibility, I favor the second possibility. (2) The distinction is not between believers but between believers and unbelievers. Both can be present in a large house. The context shows that some who had been exposed to the truth, strayed from the truth and perpetrated false teachings.
The Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary has an interesting analysis writing...
To amplify the differences of interpretation on this passage let me quote from two well known and highly respected expositors both of which make fairly dogmatic statements!
Warren Wiersbe flatly states that Paul "He is not distinguishing between kinds of Christians, but rather is making a distinction between true teachers of the Word and the false teachers he described (2 Tim. 2:16-18). (Ibid)
John Stott - the two sets of vessels in the great house … represent not genuine and spurious members of the church but true and false teachers in the church. Paul is still, in fact, referring to the two sets of teachers he has contrasted in the previous paragraph, the authentic like Timothy and the bogus like Hymenaeus and Alexander. The only difference is that he changes the metaphor from good and bad workmen to noble and ignoble vessels.”
John MacArthur with just as much assurance writes "Honor and dishonor do not refer to true and false Christians, respectively...Honor and dishonor therefore refer to the ways in which genuine believers are found useful to the Lord in fulfilling the work to which He has called them. (Ibid)
The New Geneva Study Bible explains that verses 20-21 "provide an example from everyday life of the importance of holiness—being set apart for a noble (godly) task." (New Geneva study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
Knight reasons "That some have gone astray from the truth (2Ti 2:18) provides the setting for referring to vessels "unto dishonor". Therefore, the large house is to be understood as the Christian community in its broadest sense, within which are false teachers.... The analogy could represent society in general (Chrysostom), but that the imagery of the house has been used of the Christian community in 1Ti 3:15 favors that understanding here (Alford, Calvin)....Therefore, gold and silver vessels are esteemed as honorable because they are used for honorable functions. Similarly, wood and earthenware vessels are regarded as dishonorable because they are used for garbage or excrement and are sometimes thrown out with their contents. The implication is that there may indeed be vessels like the false teachers in the professing Christian community, but their activity indicates that they are dishonorable. (Knight, G. W. The Pastoral Epistles : A Commentary on the Greek text Page 417. Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle, England: Eerdmans)
The Preacher's Commentary cautions us to "be careful not to press this metaphor too far. The picture is of the utensils in a home of affluence. Some are used for special occasions (“honor”); some are used for menial tasks (“dishonor”). The contrast between the silver goblet used for a toast and the garbage bucket comes to mind. The context would indicate that Paul is still dealing with the contrast between true and false teachers, with Hymenaeus and Philetus still in mind. (Briscoe, D. S., & Ogilvie, L. J. The Preacher's Commentary Series. New Testament. 2003. Thomas Nelson)
2 Timothy 2:21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses (3SAAS) himself from these things, he will be (3SFMI) a vessel for honor, sanctified (RPPNSN), useful to the Master, prepared (RPPNSN) for every good work. (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
NLT: If you keep yourself pure, you will be a utensil God can use for his purpose. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: If a man keeps himself clean from the contaminations of evil he will be a vessel used for honourable purposes, clean and serviceable for the use of the master of the household, all ready, in fact, for any good purpose. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: If, therefore, a person separate himself from these [the utensils held in contempt], he shall be a utensil highly prized, in a state of permanent separation, useful to the master, for every good work equipped. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: if, then, any one may cleanse himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honour, sanctified and profitable to the master -- to every good work having been prepared,
|THEREFORE IF A MAN CLEANSES FROM THESE: ean oun tis ekkathare (3SAAS) heauton apo touton: (Ps 119:9; Isa 1:25; 52:11; Jer 15:19; Mal 3:3; 1Co 5:7; 2Co 7:1-note; 1Pet 1:22-note; 1Jn 3:3)
What or who does "these" refer to? There is a difference of opinion, the NAS adding "things" but if one reads it literally "cleanses himself from these" it would be more reasonable to interpret it as "the vessels of dishonor" which would be evil people (assuming one holds to the interpretation that different vessels represent believers and non-believers, especially false teachers) and especially those who are teaching error, as for example Hymenaeus and Philetus.
Wuest (who believes he is referring to saved and unsaved) paraphrases it...
Morris explains that
Paul gave a similar instruction to the Corinthians commanding them...
The idea of a holy vessel is brought out in Jehovah's words to King Asa (though Hanani the seer)...
In Psalm 119:9 the psalmist asks and answers his own question explaining how one can stay cleansed...
Therefore (3767) (oun) is a term of conclusion indicating that the statement it introduces is an inference drawn from the last phrase of the previous verse. In other words, since some vessels are for honor, one should “therefore” seek to be one of them.
If (see notes on conditional clauses) indicates this is a conditional sentence, the condition (condition of the third class) that is to be fulfilled being to cleanse oneself from the defilement of fellowship with “these” (the dishonorable vessels, in context the false teachers) and the effects of their teaching and actions. Can you see the gravity and significance of what Paul is stating in this section? The bottom line is that each of us has the ability to make choices which determine whether he or she will be a vessel for for God's use. This is a most sobering thought and is amplified by the charge that follows (flee...pursue) in the next verse.
D. L. Moody said that...
Steven Cole writes that...
Beloved do you truly desire to be
Cleanses (1571) (ekkathairo from ek = out or giving sense of "utterly" + kathaíro = purge, clean = English “catharsis”) means to clean out thoroughly, to completely purge and rid of something unclean. This word strongly emphasizes the completeness of cleansing called for. This is not just a little dusting off but a purging from the evil (people and/or teaching).
The idea is "if he separates himself from communion with..."
Ekkathairo was used in the following phrases in Greek writings -- to clear out ditches; he clears this land of monsters.
Ekkathairo is used twice in the Septuagint (LXX), in Judges 7:4 and the following verse...
In the present context both Vincent and Wuest feel the meaning of cleanse (ekkathaíro) here is to separate oneself from communion with other people. Close, intimate association with false teachers and wickedness may lead to moral and spiritual contamination (1Co 15:33) Paul is admonishing Timothy to separate himself from communion or fellowship with these false teachers and their teachings that lead to ruin of the hearers and upset the faith of others. If he "purges" himself completely from them, then God will honor him, set him apart, and equip him for service.
W E Vine explains that...
The Holman Bible Commentary has the following note regarding "cleansing"...
Dwight Edwards writes that in calling us to cleanse ourselves Paul is saying we must
The Lord’s exhortation to Jewish exiles in pagan Babylon to leave behind the pollutions of the land of captivity in principle applies to every believer who seeks to serve Him. Isaiah records God's instruction
Warning Jeremiah about associating with ungodly Israelites, God said,
The influence should be but one way. If those unfaithful Israelites were led to repentance by Jeremiah’s preaching and example, the Lord would be pleased. But the prophet was never to allow their corruption to infect him. Do not be deceived, beloved!
Guzik reminds that...
This principle of cleansing oneself in preparation for acceptable service is affirmed by Malachi recording that (at Messiah's second coming)
Refusing to associate with sinning believers is also for their own benefit. If they are not disciplined and are readily accepted into church fellowship, they will become more comfortable in their sin. Being ostracized from the church, on the other hand, may help them become ashamed and repentant.
Robert Lightner writes that...
HE WILL BE A VESSEL FOR HONOR: estai (3SFMI) skeuos eis timen: (2Ti 2:20; 1Pe 1:7) (Acts 9:15)
Vessel (4632) (skeuos) refers to a hollow vessel for containing things. Skeuos was used of a wide variety of domestic implements, utensils, and furnishings, including furniture and tools. Because of the materials mentioned here of which these items were made, it seems likely that Paul had in mind serving vessels and perhaps utensils. Figuratively skeuos refers of a person as the instrument of someone. Shortly after his Damascus Road conversion, Jesus instructed Ananias to go to his aid, explaining that
Paul frequently uses the figure of a vessel to describe Christians. The point is clear that God can use only clean vessels in holy service. For God to be able to use us as vessels, we must be empty, clean, and available. He will take us and fill us and use us for His glory. But if we are filled with sin or defiled by disobedience, He will first have to purge us (see Heb 12:5-11) and that might not be an enjoyable experience.
Robert Murray McCheyne wrote the following to a young ministerial student
Honor (5092) (time from tío = pay honor, respect) describes the worth or merit of some object.
Wuest says this cleansed man
SANCTIFIED: hegiasmenon (RPPNSN): (1Cor 6:11)
Sanctified (37) (hagiazo from hagios = holy) means to set apart or consecrate for sacred use, to dedicate to service of and to loyalty to deity (God). In context it means to make a person or thing (in the OT altars, days, priests, etc were set apart) the opposite of koinos, which means profane or common.
Hagiazo - 28x in 25v - Matt 6:9; 23:17, 19; Luke 11:2; John 10:36; 17:17, 19; Acts 20:32; 26:18; Rom 15:16; 1 Cor 1:2; 6:11; 7:14; Eph 5:26; 1 Thess 5:23; 1 Tim 4:5; 2 Tim 2:21; Heb 2:11; 9:13; 10:10, 14, 29; 13:12; 1 Pet 3:15; Rev 22:11. NAS = hallowed(2), keep himself holy(1), sanctified(16), sanctifies(2), sanctify(7).
Cremer says hagiazo means
The idea is to set apart for God’s possession and use. Believers are set apart negatively from sin and positively for God and for His righteousness.
Hiebert adds that...
Hagiazo is in the perfect tense indicating that the set apart state began at a point in time and continues in the present. The perfect tense speaks of a past action on his part of separating himself from such, and his present confirmed practice of maintaining that separation. Stated another way, hagiazo in the perfect tense describes a state of permanent separation.
Our initial experience of salvation by faith in Christ's completed work on the Cross is in itself a sanctification, representing the initial setting apart believers to God (Click the Three Tenses of Salvation). But sanctification is also the beginning of a life long process of working out our salvation daily in fear and trembling, knowing that this is only possible because it Himself at work in us give us the "want to" (because the old nature inherited from Adam is still latent within our bodies and it never "wants to" please God but only to please self) to do what pleases Him at the same time also providing us the power to do His will. (Php 2:12,13 -see notes v12, v13)
Sanctification is a reality (past tense salvation = when were justified by faith we were sanctified or set apart from the world and unto God) and a progressive experience (present tense salvation which is also by faith) looking forward to the complete redemption of our bodies one day which refers to glorification (future tense salvation)
Wuest adds that hagiazo does not mean...
Just as the vessels in the Jewish tabernacle and temple were set apart from all profane use and were consecrated and dedicated solely to Jehovah and to His service, so too believers as holy vessels are set apart for His Him to use as He wills.
As we think about our part ("fleeing youthful lusts...pursuing righteousness") in this process of sanctification, imagine using a dish in your house for transporting vile wastes and then turning around and using the same dish to serve food to an honored guest. You say "I'd never do that". But isn't that what we all do when we make the conscious choice at a particular moment (Ja 1:13, 1:14, 1:15-see note) to defile ourselves and fulfill the ever present "youthful lusts", whatever those lusts might mean for each of us individually? "Do not be deceived (present imperative + negative = stop letting yourself be deceived - Sin will do this, your old flesh will do this, the devil will do this!), my beloved brethren" (Ja 1:16-see note ) An honorable vessel is to be kept pure if it is to continue to be used.
To paraphrase the great Puritan theologian John Owen we must "kill sin" lest it "kill us". How are you doing? (see John Piper's sermons including How to Kill Sin or listen to the Mp3) (See also How to Kill Sin, Part 2b) (How Dead People do Battle with Sin) (Battling the Unbelief of Lust ) (Kill Anger Before It Kills You or Your Marriage) (The Pleasure of God in Obedience )
Don't become discouraged for
If you have transgressed, confess and turn from that sin in full assurance that "blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!" (Ps 32:1- Spurgeon's note) You (nor I) have not "arrived" yet and you (and I) need to daily gird your mind for action (1Pe 1:13,14, 15, 16 , 17 -see notes 1:13-14, 1:15-16, 17) and present yourself to God as His holy vessel (Ro 12:1-note, Ro 12:2-note, Lev 11:44, Holiness by J. C. Ryle), even when you don't "feel very holy". (see also Holiness Quotes)
You must remember that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God, and that you are not your own for you have been bought with a price (1Cor 6:19-20) that price being the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (see note 1 Peter 1:19) and now as an alien and stranger in this present evil world system that passionately hates holiness and tragically loves wickedness (1Pe 2:11-note, see Piper on 1Peter 2:11 & How Aliens Keep The Identity of Their Homeland), your purpose is to "glorify God in your body" (1Co 6:19, 20-Click John Piper on 1Cor 6:20)
Steven Cole notes that sanctified...
USEFUL TO THE MASTER: kai euchreston to despote:
Useful (2173) (euchrestos from eú = well + chráomai = furnish what is needful) means easy to make use of, serviceable. Pertains to being helpful or beneficial, very profitable. This word contrasts with useless in 2Ti 2:14. (see note). Used once in Septuagint (Pr 31:13) and 3 times in the NT (2Ti 2:21; 4:11; Philemon 1:11)
In short, the Greek word euchrestos conveys the sense of that which is easy to make use of.
The apostle wanted Timothy to be useful to Jesus Christ, the Master, just as Mark proved "useful (euchrestos) to (him) for service" in his apostolic work (see note 2 Timothy 4:11).
One of the deepest desires of Paul’s own heart was to be useful to the Master as he explained in his first letter to the Corinthians writing
The thought that he should ever be disqualified as a runner ("vessel") was abhorrent to him.
A useful human vessel of honor does not get involved in the popular things of the world, even the “religious world” but instead makes choices to remain holy (not aloof or better than others), separating from everything that would defile him.
Guzik cautions us that...
Master (1203) (despotes) (Click note) means one who possesses undisputed ownership and absolute, unrestricted authority, so that the Greeks refused the title to any but the gods. Despotes is one who has legal control and authority over persons, such as subjects or slaves and was used especially as the ruler over a household.
Despotes - 10x in 10v - Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24; 1 Tim 6:1f; 2 Tim 2:21; Titus 2:9; 1 Pet 2:18; 2 Pet 2:1; Jude 1:4; Rev 6:10. NAS = Lord(3), Master(3), masters(4).
Steven Cole explains that despot...
What an honor it is to be useful to our Master! Our Lord Jesus has has undisputed ownership and uncontrolled power over us. He
We are to be His bondservants, accepting that we have no rights but His rights and no will but the Master's. Obviously this is the "ideal" situation, but it should that for which we labor and strife as we "discipline (ourselves) for godliness", where discipline is in the present imperative indicating a continual need for this discipline. (1Ti 4:7, 8, 9, 10-notes 4:7; 4:8; 4:9; 10).
Those entities that can be made ready or put in a state of readiness include
Our English word prepare (from pre/prae = before + parare = to procure, to make ready) includes ideas such as to fit, adapt or qualify for a particular purpose, end, use, service or state, by any means whatever (eg, men and women are prepared to be disciples by being properly discipled! Webster's 1828 = "holiness of heart is necessary to prepare men for the enjoyment of happiness with holy beings."), to put in a proper state of mind (eg, a heart prepared to hear from the Lord in one's "quiet time"), to work out the details, to plan or make ready in advance usually for a particular use or disposition (eg, prepare the roads for a King's arrival, prepare strategy for a fund raising campaign, to prepare a meal, to prepare the table for entertaining company, to prepare to go, etc), to put together (eg, prepare a prescription), to put in written form (eg, prepare a sermon or doctoral thesis), to make ready for use or consideration, make or get ready to do or deal with something (eg, prepared to preach or teach this coming Sunday), to be prepared to do something, to be willing (and able) to do something, to equip or outfit as for an expedition (cp 2Ti 2:21).
Here in 2Timonthy chapter 2 hetoimazo includes the idea of willingness and eagerness as well as of readiness. It means “prepared” in the sense of being “equipped.”
The following is a summary of hetoimazo modified from Thayer...
Hetoimazo - 40x in 40v - Mt 3:3; 20:23; 22:4; 25:34, 41; 26:17, 19; Mk 1:3; 10:40; 14:12, 15f; Luke 1:17, 76; 2:31; 3:4; 9:52; 12:20, 47; 17:8; 22:8f, 12f; 23:56; 24:1; Jn 14:2f; Acts 23:23; 1Co 2:9; 2Ti 2:21; Philemon 1:22; Heb 11:16; Rev 8:6; 9:7, 15; 12:6; 16:12; 19:7; 21:2.
NAS = get ready(1), get...ready(1), made ready(1), made...ready(1), make arrangements(1), make ready(4), prepare(11), prepared(20).
Hetoimazo - 127x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Ge 24:14, 31, 44; 43:16, 25; Ex 15:17; 16:5; 23:20; Nu 23:1, 4, 29; Josh 1:11; 9:4; 1Sa 2:3; 7:3; 13:13; 20:31; 23:22; 2Sa 5:12; 7:12, 24; 1 Kgs 2:12, 24; 5:18; 2 Kgs 12:11; 1 Chr 9:32; 12:39; 14:2; 15:1, 3, 12; 17:11; 22:3, 5, 14; 28:2; 29:2f, 16; 2Chr 1:4; 2:7, 9; 3:1; 8:16; 12:1; 26:14; 27:6; 29:19, 36; 31:11; 35:4, 6, 12, 14ff; Ezra 3:3; Esth 1:1; 5:14; 6:4, 14; 7:9f; Job 12:5; 15:28; 18:12; 27:16; 28:27; 38:25, 41; 41:10; Ps 7:12, 13; 9:7; 11:2; 21:12; 23:5; 24:2; 57:6; 65:6, 9; 68:10; 78:19, 20; 89:2, 4; 99:4; 103:19; 119:60; 132:17; 147:8; Pr 3:19; 6:8; 8:27, 35; 9:2; 16:12; 19:29; 21:31; 23:12; 24:27; 30:25; Isa 14:21; 21:5; 30:33; 40:3; 44:7; 54:11; 65:11; Jer 46:14; 51:12, 15; Ezek 4:3, 7; 20:6; 38:7f; Da 4:26; 12:11; Amos 4:12; Mic 7:3; Nah 2:5; 3:8; Hab 2:12; Zeph 1:7; 3:7; Zech 5:11. Here are a few uses to give you a sense of how hetoimazo is used in the Septuagint (see the NIDNTT discussion for more detail)...
NIDNTT writes that in the Septuagint hetoimazo is used with a religious sense (see notes above) and also ...
Prepared for every good work specifies how useful the vessel is to the Master in that it is fit for every type of service. Such a "vessel" is...
Ready, willing and able!
Does that describe your daily walk with Christ? It should for otherwise how will you be prepared to even recognize those "good works" which God prepared beforehand that you should walk in them (cp Ep 2:10-note)?
Prepared in 2Timothy 2:21 is in the perfect tense which means that this man (or woman) has been made ready (at some point of time in the past) and remains in a condition of readiness. Such a person has been put in readiness (like the Minute Men militia - mostly farmers, these men were ready to engage in active combat of the enemy in a "minute's" notice! Are you one of God's prepared "Minute Men''?) This man or woman is one who will be ready at all times to be used in whatever way the Master might dictate. And remember that inherent in this readiness is the idea of willingness and eagerness, the antithesis of grumbling! Do you grumble when the Master calls you to action?
Here the use of the perfect tense could point back to our salvation at which time we received all of Jesus that we will ever receive...we were made complete in Him (Col 2:10-note) and were given the empowering presence of His Spirit (Ro 8:9-note, 1Co 12:13). It is also possible the perfect tense in this passage could point back to the moment when we made the choice to cleanse ourselves (cp similar idea in "presenting" one's body to God as a living and holy sacrifice [Ro 12:1-note], for "sacrifices" were required to be clean in order to be acceptable and pleasing to a thrice holy God!)
The word of God makes the ''vessel adequate". How? Teaching, Reproof, Correction, and Training in Righteousness (2Ti 3:16, 17-note) are all a form of "cleansing". We are set apart or sanctified by truth (the first time [past tense salvation-see Three Tenses of Salvation] and then every day for the rest of our life on earth [present tense salvation = "progressive sanctification"]). In fact this sanctification (past and present) was prayed for by our Lord in His high priestly prayer just before He went to the Cross...
The parallel idea is seen in (Ep 5:26-note) where Paul describes the cleansing role of the Word on the Church:
As we behold "the glory of the Lord" in His Spirit illuminated Word of Truth and Life, we are
So the Word of God is used by the Spirit of God to set us apart and conform us to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ro 8:29-note).
Remember that what is pure and set apart for special use can easily get contaminated and be rendered unusable through contact with the corrupt and profane. Paul was concerned that Timothy, his choice disciple, keep himself in a usable condition for the Lord and separated from evil. (see 1Cor 15:33, 2Th 3:5, 6, 7, 8ff].
Steven Cole sums up this verse writing that...
Every good work - That is every "God work", every work initiated by and energized by His Spirit (then we can take no credit for the work and have no reason for pride but only reason for praise and thanks!)
Barnes writes that
Matthew Henry reminds us that
John Calvin rightly reminds us (for a man is tested by the praise accorded him - Pr 27:21)...
Oswald Chambers alluded to the supernatural aspect of good deeds when he exhorted us to...
Martin Luther in his preface to his comments on Romans wrote...
See related study on Good Deeds.
Paul speaks frequently of good deeds...