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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

2 TIMOTHY 3:16 -- 4:4

HOMILIES OF ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM ON THE SECOND EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL THE APOSTLE TO TIMOTHY

EXCERPTS FROM HOMILY IX.





2 TIMOTHY iii. 16, 17. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

HAVING offered much exhortation and consolation from other sources, he adds that which is more perfect, derived from the Scriptures; and he is reasonably full in offering consolation, be- breath, when he saw him departing as it were in death, rent his garments for grief, what think to die, and that he could not enjoy his company when he was near his death which is above all things apt to be distressing? For we are less grateful for the past time, when we have been deprived of the more recent intercourse of those who are departed. For this reason when he had previously offered much consolation, he then discourses concerning his own death: and this m no ordinary way, but is words adapted to comfort him and fill him with joy; so as to have it considered as a sacrifice rather than a death; a migration, as in fact it was, and a removal to a better state. "For I am now ready to be offered up", he says. For this reason he writes: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" All what Scripture? all that sacred writing, he means, of which I was speaking. This is said of what he was discoursing of; about which he said, "From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures." All such, then, "is given by inspiration of God"; therefore, he means, do not doubt; and it is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works"

"For doctrine." For thence we shall know, whether we ought to learn or to be ignorant of anything. And thence we may disprove what is false, thence we may be corrected and brought to a right mind, may be comforted and consoled, and if anything is deficient, we may have it added to us.

"That the man of God may be perfect." For this is the exhortation of the Scripture given, that the man of God may be rendered perfect by it; without this therefore he cannot be perfect. Thou hast the Scriptures, he says, in place of me. If thou wouldest learn anything, thou mayest learn it from them. And if he thus wrote to Timothy, who was filled with the Spirit, how much more to us!

"Thoroughly furnished unto all good works";

Chap. 4: 1. "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the quick and the dead "

He either means the wicked and the just, or the departed and those that are still living; for many will be left alive. In the former Epistle he raised his fears, saying. "I give thee charge in the sight of God, Who quickeneth all things": but here he sets before him what is more dreadful "Who shall judge the quick and the dead," that is, Who shall call them to account

Ver.1. (continued) "at His appearing and His kingdom."

When shah He judge? At His appearing with glory, and in His kingdom. Either he says this to show that He will not come in the way that He now has come, or, "I call to witness His coming, and His kingdom. He calls Him to witness, showing that he had reminded Him of that appearing. Then teaching him how he ought to preach the word, he adds,

Ver. 2. "Preach the word: be infant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."

What means "in season, out of season"? That is, have not any limited season: let it always be thy season, not only in peace and security, and when sitting in the Church. Whether thou be in danger, in prison, in chains, or going to thy death, at that very time reprove. Withhold not rebuke, for reproof is then most seasonable, when thy rebuke will be most successful, when the reality is proved. "Exhort," he says. After the manner of physicians, having shown the wound, he gives the incision, he applies the plaster. For if you omit either of these, the other becomes useless. If you rebuke without convicting you will seem to be rash, and no one will tolerate it, but after the matter is proved, he will submit to rebuke: before, he will be headstrong. And if you convict and rebuke, but vehemently, and do not apply exhortation, all your labor will be lost. For conviction is intolerable in itself if consolation be not mingled with it. As if incision, though salutary in itself, have not plenty of lenitives to assuage the pain, the patient cannot endure cutting and hacking, so it is in this matter.

"With all longsuffering and doctrine." For he that reproves is required to be longsuffering, that he may not believe hastily, and rebuke needs consolation, that it may be received as it ought. And why to "longsuffering" does he add "doctrine"? "Not as in anger, not as in hatred, not as insulting over him, not as having caught an enemy. Far be these things from thee." But how? As loving as sympathizing with him, as more distressed than himself at his grief, as melted at his sufferings? "With all longsuffering and doctrine." No ordinary teaching is implied.

Ver. 3. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine."

Before they grow stiffnecked, preoccupy them all. For this reason he says, "in season, out of season"; do everything so as to have willing disciples.

Ver.3. (continued) "But after their own lusts, shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears."

Nothing can be more expressive than these words For by saying "they shall heap to themselves," he shows the indiscriminate multitude of the teachers, as also by their being elected by their disciples. "They shall heap to themselves teachers" he says, "having itching ears." Seeking for such as speak to gratify and delight their hearers.

Ver. 4. "And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned unto fables."

This he foretells, not as willing to throw him into despair, but to prepare him to bear it firmly, when it shall happen. As Christ also did m saying "They will deliver you up, and they will scourge you, and bring you before the synagogues, for My name's sake." And this blessed man elsewhere says, "For I know this, that after my departures shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock." (Acts xx. 29.) But this he said that they might watch, and duly use the present opportunity.