These small group studies of 2 Timothy contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
2 Timothy 2:20-26 Inductive Bible Study
I. Be a vessel of honor (20-21)
II. Say “no” to sin (22-23)
III. The qualities of a servant of God (24-26)
I. Be a vessel of honor (20-21)
- How does this passage fit in with the context of what we have studied so far?
- What kind of vessels are for dishonor?
- What do the gold/silver vessels represent?
- What do the wooden and earthenware vessels represent?
- How can you become an honorable vessel?
- How would you go about cleansing yourself?
- Who is the Master?
- How can you be more useful to the Master?
- How can you be more prepared for every good work?
John 12:26 – Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
Matthew 25:21 – “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
Jeremiah 18:6 – He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.
Hebrews 13:16 – And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Hebrews 6:10 – God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
1 Corinthians 3:12 – If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw.
1. Stand firm – A major theme of the book of 2 Timothy is to stand firm. Paul encouraged Timothy to be strong in God’s grace. He reminded Paul to never give up, never compromise, and never be ashamed. In the past several verses we have seen Paul encourage Timothy not to be distracted. He wanted Timothy to keep his ministry goals clearly in front of him and not be sidetracked by worldly chatter or foolish talk. He was to focus on the Word of God and become equipped to handle it accurately.
2. The “firm foundation of God stands.” – In verse 20 we see that the lives of believers and their works are built on top of that firm foundation. Paul uses an illustration to show Timothy that he has a choice to make regarding whether or not he will be used by God. He gives an example of a house. In a typical house there would be some valuable items made out of gold and silver and some common items made out of cheap materials like wood or clay. Obviously the owner would place greater value on the expensive items made out of gold.
In our homes it is the same. Some “dishonorable” items are made out of cheap plastic (such as trash cans). We don’t care so much if they are broken. We don’t pay any special attention to take care of them. Paul is basically giving Timothy an implied question, “If you could choose, which type of item would you want to be?” Would you be the polished tool or would you be the dirty rag?
3. Verse 21 – Paul wanted Timothy to be a vessel of honor. He wanted Timothy to be a useful tool in God’s hands. He wanted Timothy to serve God. If Timothy allowed himself to be used by God (by not giving up and compromising, unlike Phygelus and Hermogenes in 1:15), then God would honor him.
1 Peter 5:6 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Application: Do you want to be used by God? Are you making yourself useful to the Master? Or are you only useful to yourself? Do you want to be honored or dishonored?
Of course we want to be honored. We want to be rewarded. In that case, we have to cleanse ourselves (through repentance) of sins and every dishonorable thing. God put us in this world for a reason. He is the Master. We are the servants. We are here to serve the Master. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God has prepared many good works for us to do. How many percent of the good works God has prepared for you are you doing? 5%? 20%? 90%?
Charles Studd – Only a short life, will soon be past. Only what is built for God will last.
2. Verses 22-23 – Say “no” to sin
- Why did Paul call the lusts Timothy faced youthful?
- What are some examples of youthful lusts?
- Do we face these temptations?
- What should we do about it?
- How can you better flee and avoid these things?
- Take a moment and write a temptation you sometimes face (you don’t need to show this to anyone, but you can if you feel it is helpful). Now write down one specific way you can flee/avoid this temptation. If anyone would like to share, you can.
- What other protection is offered in verse 22?
- Why is it important that we are not only running from something, but also pursuing something else?
- Who are we to pursue these things with?
- Why is it important that we are not in this race by ourselves?
- How can others help you conquer temptations?
- How can you hep them?
- What kind of things is Paul referring to in verse 23?
James 4:7 – Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Hebrews 2:18 – Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Luke 22:40 – On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
Psalm 119:11 – I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
1 John 5:4 – For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1 Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
1. Verse 22 – The Bible is not always complicated. Often it is very simple. Here the lesson is clear. You don’t need a P.H.D. or a seminary education to understand it. We are to flee temptations. When we are tempted we are to run. This also implies that we are to avoid things or places which we know will stir up temptations in us.
Questions for discussion: Can anyone give practical examples? What are some practical things we can do to avoid temptation? The Bible often contains negative and positive instructions. We are to flee something and pursue something else. What? How can you pursue these things? Righteousness and faith, love and peace are all intangible. How specifically can you pursue these intangible qualities?
Here are a few ideas:
- Memorize verses.
- Read Christian books and biographies.
- Keep a prayer journal to remind yourself of God’s faithfulness.
- Set clear, practical, goals (short and long-term) for your spiritual growth.
2. With those who call on the Lord from a pure heart – We are not alone. God has given us brothers and sisters who can help us in these goals. In long distance biking races like the Tour De France teams help each other reach higher speeds than they could do on their own. When you watch these races, you will notice that the team members take turns being the lead racer while others draft behind them, taking turns “resting.” Geese do this as well flying in V formation and taking turns rotating to the end of the line.
Application: Are you doing anything specific to help your brothers and sisters in their pursuit of righteousness? Are you receiving help from others?
3. Verse 23 – Refuse foolish and ignorant speculations. This verse is quite similar to verses 14 and 16. Only here the word used is speculation. The Greek word is “zhthsij.” It is pronounced, “dzay’-tay-sis.” It means a seeking, an enquiry, a questioning, a debate, a matter of controversy. It is a foolish argument. It is speculating about questions that we can’t know the answer to.
There are many such issues believers can waste their time on. For example, there is a famous question that some theologians have discussed for years, “How many angels can fit on the head of a pin.” If you search for this question on Google, you will find that many articles have been devoted to answering or discussing this question.
I have not read any of these articles because it is a foolish speculation. It is a nonsensical question. The answer is not in the Bible. What is more, the answer would have no practical application for us. Spending time on these types of questions does not benefit us spiritually in any way. Instead these questions create conflict and disagreement. They create division. They waste believers’ time thinking about and studying about these things when we should be out loving others and sharing the gospel.
Satan is overjoyed whenever believers get involved in these pointless debates rather than busying themselves building God’s kingdom.
Application: Do not waste your time on questions such as these. Always ask yourself if a question is worth arguing over before engaging in a debate with other believers. Another good question is, “does finding the answer help me become more like Christ?”
III. The qualities of a servant of God ( Verses 24-26)
- Who is the Lord’s bond-servant?
- What is he/she like?
- How should a Bible teacher treat those he/she is teaching?
- What should you do when someone has an unbiblical view?
- What kind of attitude should you have when you respond to them?
- What if you see them posting something anti-Christian online?
- Should you argue?
- What is the goal when correcting these people?
Philippians 2:3-10 – Read these verses for a description of Jesus’ qualities as the ultimate servant.
1. Verse 24 – Here Paul encourages Timothy in the type of character qualities he will need to be a godly teacher of others. Christian leaders are first of all servants. We are not to lead as the world leads. We are not to lead through intimidation or force. Jesus warned His disciples about not lording it over those under them. Timothy was a young man entrusted with great responsibility. He was a pastor. He was a teacher. He likely appointed elders. He oversaw numerous churches. Yet he was not to use his authority as a commander or a dictator.
Paul warned him not to be quarrelsome. He wasn’t to seek out arguments. He wasn’t to value his own opinion too highly. He wasn’t supposed to enjoy conflict. Instead, he was to be kind to all. “All” includes those people who did not deserve such kindness. It included those who sinned willfully or in ignorance. It included people who caused trouble for him. It included people who asked annoying questions or who would not listen to him.
While Timothy was to be able to teach, teaching is not the only or perhaps even the main aspect of his character which was important. It was important for him to be the right type of person and then people would be more likely to listen to him when he taught them. At the same time, Paul encouraged him to be patient when wronged. As a ministry leader, he would surely face people who wronged him. He was to patiently forgive them and serve them anyway.
2. Verse 25 – With gentleness correcting the opposition. The goal is that they would repent. The action is correcting (not just letting it go.) The attitude is gentleness (not harsh.)
Activity: Ask two pairs to give a short skit. One should give an example of harshly correcting the opposition. The other should give an example of gently correcting the opposition. You can either give them the specific situation for their role play or let them come up with it themselves.
3. Verse 26 – We should have compassion for these people, because they are being deluded by Satan. They are in the same situation that we would be in apart from God’s grace working in our lives. Since Satan is holding them captive, we should also have a duel pronged plan of attack including prayer and correcting.
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