Vs. 15. Those who study the Word to please men, to boast of their knowledge of theology and Bible mysteries or to win the applause of men are not the servants of Christ! Sometimes those who are approved of by men are disapproved of by God. There is nothing that will check a foolish eagerness for man's approval and a personal display of so-called knowledge more than remembering that we must give an account to God alone (Heb. 13:17; II Cor. 5:9). Therefore, we study, labour, preach and declare the gospel as in the sight of God, seeking only his approval!
The study and ministry of the Word is a work that requires diligence, application and sincerity, and for which no man is sufficient without the grace of God. Those who are employed in it are labourers together with God and are worthy of respect and honour. If they are faithful, bold and diligent in their study and ministry, they need not be ashamed, either before men or their Master. Those who play at preaching and are covetous of honour, applause and possessions should be ashamed now and will be in that day!
"Rightly dividing the word of truth" is rightly handling, skilfully teaching and correctly interpreting the Scriptures in their relation to other Scriptures (concerning Christ, his person and work, the law and the gospel) and being able to give both milk and meat to feed the babes, the young men and the elders (II Peter 1:20, 21; Acts 10:43; Luke 24:44, 45; Acts 20:20,27; I Cor. 3:2).
Vs. 16. "Be diligent in imparting to your hearers solid instructions, doctrines and teaching. Aim at edifying, not entertaining!" We are not to amaze and amuse men, but to instruct them in the things of Christ. Therefore, avoid vain, empty, useless rambling, empty talk and speculation. Those who are not content with the simplicity of the gospel turn it into profane philosophy, aiming at applause rather than the profit of the church (I Cor. 2:1-5; 1:17-24). We do not need novelties of words, high-sounding phrases and modern criticisms; these only lead men into more ungodliness. We need the Word of our Lord preached as it is to men as they are!
Vs. 17. Paul compares the errors and heresies of false teachers to gangrene. If it is not cut out, it will spread to all of the adjoining parts until it destroys the man. These false teachers and their errors are to be opposed and those infected with them are to be cut off lest they corrupt the whole church.
These two persons fell from the truth and went astray claiming that there was no future resurrection of the dead. Some think that they taught that there is no resurrection except spiritual resurrection or regeneration. Some think that they taught that parents live again in their children, whatever they taught, it was contrary to the Scriptures and undermined the faith of some. These errors must be rooted up and out! (Titus 1:13, 14; I Tim. 1:19, 20; 4:16.)
Vs. 19. We know too well (by experience) how much trouble and scandal is produced by the apostasy and falling away of those who at one time professed faith in Christ. This is especially true in the case of those who were preachers, elders, and leaders in the church. A man or woman who has been regarded as a pillar in the church cannot depart from the gospel without involving others in his or her ruin, especially the weak. "Nevertheless," there is no reason why believers should lose heart and be over-disturbed, although they see people fall whom they thought to be strong.
"The foundation of God standeth sure." That faith (which is the faith of God's elect) is the operation of God, is the gift of his grace, has Christ as its author, finisher and object and is firm and immovable as a foundation laid by God! It stands sure, being supported by the power of God and the intercession of Christ, and cannot be overthrown by Satan, false teachers or trials of life (Rom. 8:28-31,38,39).
The seal or stamp put on the elect of God is "The Lord knows them." He chose them, wrote their names in his book and will never suffer them to perish (Phil. 4:3; 1:6; John 28; 6:37-39). "Let everyone who loves and calls upon the name of Christ in sincerity depart from iniquity" both doctrinal and practical iniquity. We have a gospel to believe, preach and adorn. We have a beloved Master to love, trust and glorify in our attitude, actions and words. To call on his name is also to be called by his name as a woman is married to a man and is called by his name!