Augsburg Confession – Article 17 – Christ’s Return to Judgment

Articles 17 & 18 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

(To read Article 16, click here.)

We also teach that our Lord Jesus Christ will come to judge on the Last Day. He will awaken all the dead, giving eternal life and eternal joy to the believers and elect, but condemning the godless1 and the devil to hell and eternal punishment.

We therefore reject the Anabaptists, who teach that the devil and those who are condemned will not experience eternal pain and torment.2

Likewise, we also reject here certain Jewish teachings that are also surfacing at the present time, which claim that before the resurrection of the dead, just the saints and pious will have a worldly kingdom and will annihilate all the godless.3

(To continue to Article 18, click here.)

Notes

1 Note that Melanchthon provides the synonym elect for believers, but no corresponding synonym such as non-elect for the unbelievers or godless, since the Bible only uses the concept of the elect to describe those who will inherit eternal life (Psalm 106:4,5; Matthew 22:14; Romans 8:33; Ephesians 1:4-6,11,12; 1 Peter 2:9). Two passages often cited in support of the damned also being elect – that is, elect or predestined for damnation – are Romans 9:22-24 and 1 Peter 2:8. But in Romans 9, two different Greek verbs are used to describe the saved and the damned, and only the verb describing the saved has a προ- prefix on it (that is, the choosing was done “in advance” or from eternity only for them). That an eternal election is not the case with the damned is even clearer in 1 Peter 2:8, since Peter immediately goes on to say in the next verse, “But you [believers] are an elect kind [i.e. class of creatures]…” – namely, as opposed to the condemned unbelievers he was just talking about. In both verses, the destining (not predestination) of unbelievers to hell is spoken of in the sense of consequence, in view of their wrongdoing and unbelief. It would certainly seem logical and reasonable to say that if God did not choose certain people to inherit salvation, then ipso facto he has chosen them for damnation. However, God’s word contradicts that logic. The saved are such only by the eternal, gracious selection of God in view of his own plan of salvation through the person and work of his Son, a selection which is then put into effect through his own gift of faith in Christ worked by the Holy Spirit using Word and sacrament, while the damned are such only by their own choice, unbelief, and wickedness. So we simply keep silent before the mystery and let God’s logic take precedence over our own.

2 For more on the Anabaptists, see esp. Article 9, and also Articles 5, 12 & 16. In addition to the Anabaptists mentioned there, Melchior Rink and his followers also held this view, known today as universalism or universal salvation. The view is still current, being the express position of such church bodies like the Unitarian Universalist Church and the unofficial position of many within mainline Protestant church bodies. The particular position described here is not an outright rejection of hell, but a rejection of the everlasting nature of its punishment; hell becomes more like a purgatory or reformatory for everyone who goes there. Cp. Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:47,48; Luke 16:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

3 The Latin version of this paragraph reads: “They [our teachers] also condemn the others who are now spreading Jewish opinions, namely that before the resurrection of the dead the pious are going to occupy the kingdom of the world, with the impious being suppressed everywhere.”

Today such teachings are usually referred to as millennialistic or chiliastic (not to be confused with millennial as a generational classification), from the Latin words mille, “a thousand,” and annum, “year,” and the Greek word χιλιάς (chilias), “a thousand.” Melanchthon labeled them “Jewish teachings” and “Jewish opinions” due to the tendency of the Jews in Jesus’ day – including, at times, Jesus’ own disciples – to view the Messiah as an earthly king (see e.g. John 6:15,26,27; Acts 1:6; cp. John 18:36), the view also at the heart of millennialism. (This false view of the Messiah also prevails in orthodox Judaism today.) Millennialism is the teaching that there will be a literal 1000-year period of peace, prosperity, and blessedness on earth immediately before Judgment Day, though there are many variations of it. (There are some millennialists who do not understand it to be a literal 1000-year period, but still believe that things will get better on earth immediately before Judgment Day; cp. Matthew 24:4-31.) Premillennialism, the teaching that Christ will return at the start of this 1000-year period to set up a kingdom on earth, could well be the predominant teaching among Protestants (non-Roman Catholic Christians), statistically speaking. There is also postmillennialism and dispensationalism, and within dispensationalism there is the teaching of a seven-year tribulation or period of great difficulty on earth before the millennium, which includes the rapture, or sudden snatching up of believers to heaven, either before, during, or after that seven-year period, with the adherents of each position calling themselves pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib, respectively. All of this confusion and clutter can be easily dispelled by:

  1. a recognition that the concept of a millennium, in the sense that the millennialists use it, only explicitly appears in one place in the entire Bible – Revelation 20:1-6, and
  2. a careful reading of that section, without any presuppositions, paying close attention both to its immediate context (including the fact that Revelation is an apocalyptic book with a lot of symbolism, including a lot of symbolic use of numbers) and its wider, biblical context, which always mentions the second coming of Christ in connection with Judgment Day and eternal life or death (see Matthew 25:31-33,46; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; Hebrews 9:27,28).

For a thorough treatment of Revelation 20:1-6 on the basis of the Greek text, see Siegbert W. Becker, Revelation: The Distant Triumph Song (Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1985), pp. 296-315. For a thorough treatment of millennialism at a much easier reading level, see Thomas P. Nass, End Times: Jesus Is Coming Soon (Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 2011), pp. 239-344.

Notable millennialists in Melanchthon’s day included Augustin Bader (c. 1495-1530) and the already-mentioned Melchior Rink.

Also note how simply the Nicene Creed dismissed the millennialism already cropping up in its own day: “and his [Jesus’] kingdom will have no end” (see Luke 1:33). This statement would not be true if Jesus first enjoyed a 1000-year rule on earth before taking up his rule over his heavenly kingdom.

The Necessity of Being Persecuted

A Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:10-13

By Johann Gerhard, Th. D.

Translator’s Preface

The following was translated from Adnotationes ad Posteriorem D. Pauli ad Timotheum Epistolam, in Quibus Textus Declaratur, Quaestiones Dubiae Solvuntur, Observationes Eruuntur, & Loca in Speciem Pugnantia quam Brevissime Conciliantur (Commentary on St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, in Which the Text Is Explained, Difficult Questions Are Answered, Observations Are Drawn Out, and Seemingly Contradictory Passages Are Reconciled as Concisely as Possible) by Johann Gerhard, Th.D. (Jena: Steinmann, 1643), pp. 63-65; available from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.

This translation was prepared in connection with an exegetical presentation assigned to me for a circuit meeting in Merrill, Wisconsin, on November 3, 2014.

May the Holy Spirit use the example of the apostle Paul, especially his willingness to suffer a multitude and variety of persecutions for the sake of the gospel, to incite and inspire us so that we are willing and able to undergo similar experiences to the triune God’s honor and glory.

2 Timothy 3:10-13

10. Σὺ δὲ παρηκολούθηκάς μου τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ, τῇ ἀγωγῇ, τῇ προθέσει, τῇ πίστει, τῇ μακροθυμίᾳ, τῇ ἀγάπῃ, τῇ ὑπομονῇ

Tu autem adsecutus es meam doctrinam institutionem propositum fidem longanimitatem dilectionem patientiam

  • Σὺ δὲ παρηκολούθηκάς μου τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ, τῇ ἀγωγῇ, τῇ προθέσει

In contrast to the corrupt teachings and practices of the heretics Paul sets down his own example, and with it he incites Timothy to discharge his office in a steadfast manner. Paraphrase: “But you have eagerly sought to imitate and have sufficiently understood my teaching, instruction, and intention, that is, when you were an inseparable companion on my travels and a partner in my activity. Therefore you are thoroughly familiar and intimately acquainted with everything about me.”

Some take ἀγωγὴν to mean a particular method of instructing, since ἀγωγή, as Aristotle teaches in Book 1 of The Art of Rhetoric, signifies a guiding and understanding of the law that happens when an instructor or professor leads, so to speak, a student who is to be instructed to the understanding of a particular matter.1 Others say it refers to how one acts in day-to-day life and a particular manner of living. Either interpretation works.

By πρόθεσιν Paul means the end and goal of his apostolic activity. That is to say, in all the activity of his ministry he had as his purpose not his own own glory or his own well-being, but the glory of God and the well-being of his neighbor.

  • τῇ πίστει, τῇ μακροθυμίᾳ, τῇ ἀγάπῃ, τῇ ὑπομονῇ

Some take faith to mean steadfastness of the soul, but it is more correctly applied to faith’s πληροφορίᾳ or full assurance, which shows itself through firmness and steadfastness of the soul.

By μακροθυμίαν Paul means tenderness of the soul and restraint toward persecutors and enemies of the truth.

By ἀγάπην he means Christian love toward all people.

By ὑπομονὴν he means endurance in the adversities and persecutions that he had to undergo.

11. τοῖς διωγμοῖς, τοῖς παθήμασι, οἷά μοι ἐγένετο ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ, ἐν Ἰκονίῳ, ἐν Λύστροις, οἵους διωγμοὺς ὑπήνεγκα, καὶ ἐκ πάντων με ἐῤῥύσατο ὁ Κύριος.

persecutiones passiones qualia mihi facta sunt Antiochiae Iconii Lystris quales persecutiones sustinui et ex omnibus me eripuit Dominus

  • τοῖς διωγμοῖς, τοῖς παθήμασι

He recounts the persecutions and afflictions that he has patiently endured for the sake of the gospel, in order that he may incite and inspire Timothy so that he is able and willing to submit to similar experiences.

  • οἷά μοι ἐγένετο ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ, ἐν Ἰκονίῳ, ἐν Λύστροις

He names three cities that were all accessories to his sufferings – Antioch (Pisidian, not Syrian), Iconium, and Lystra. According to Theodoret and Theophylact, Paul recalls these particular cities because Timothy was more familiar with what Paul had suffered in those places, since Timothy was originally from Lystra, a city in the vicinity of the other two.2 Alternatively, he might be recalling these three cities because the persecutions in those places were stirred up against him particularly by the Jews, as is clear from Acts 13 and 14.

  • οἵους διωγμοὺς ὑπήνεγκα

He is thinking of either the persecutions he has endured in the cities just mentioned or other persecutions. After all, Timothy had seen many other persecutions of Paul.

  • καὶ ἐκ πάντων με ἐῤῥύσατο ὁ Κύριος

Paul adds these words for Timothy’s comfort. However, God does not deliver from adversities in just one way. Sometimes he removes them, sometimes he lightens them, he always works patience in the hearts of the pious, and in the end he grants a blessed ἔκβασιν or release, if not in life, then through death.

12. καὶ πάντες δὲ οἱ θέλοντες εὐσεβῶς ζῆν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ διωχθήσονται.

et omnes qui volunt pie vivere in Christo Iesu persecutionem patientur

Paraphrase: “If persecutions and adversities should also fall to your lot, there is no reason that this should seem strange and unusual, because this is common to all those who are truly pious.”

Question: Why does he add “in Christ Jesus,” when no one is able to live piously except in Christ?

Response: He wants to show the only way we are able to live piously, namely in Christ-centered faith.

Gregory says in Book 7, Epistle 30: “I say confidently that you would live less piously if you suffered persecution to a lesser extent.”3

13. πονηροὶ δὲ ἄνθρωποι καὶ γόητες προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον, πλανῶντες καὶ πλανώμενοι.

mali autem homines et seductores proficient in peius errantes et in errorem mittentes

  • πονηροὶ δὲ ἄνθρωποι καὶ γόητες προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον

There is no reason for us to expect that persecution will cease during this age, because wicked people and seducers are always getting worse and worse, from which fact persecutions against the pious originate.

  • γόητες

Γόητες properly signifies enchanters and swindlers, then it is applied more generally to impostors and deceivers.

  • προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον

These words make us think back to what the apostle had said earlier in vs. 9: οὐ προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ πλεῖον, “they will not progress further.” They also send us back to the just judgment of God, on account of which the false teachers and those who listen to them are being struck with blindness (Rom 1:18ff).

  • πλανῶντες καὶ πλανώμενοι

This is an elegant polyptoton4tum seducentes, tum seducti, “both seducing and being seduced.” Erasmus translates: dum & in errorem adducunt [alios], & errant ipsi, “while they are both leading [others] astray and going astray themselves.”5

The translator of the Vulgate has altered the sequence of the words, because in the natural order going astray comes first, rather than leading others astray. But we are not compelled by any necessity to have recourse to πρωθύστερον.6 For the sense is this: While they are seducing others, they themselves, by the just judgment of God, are suffering the punishment of immediately falling into more grievous errors.

Endnotes

1 Rf. Aristotle, The “Art” of Rhetoric, tr. John Henry Freese (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1926), p. 154, 155. The more exact citation would be Book 1, Chapter 15, Section 10, or 1375b. Gerhard seems to have obtained this interpretation of Aristotle’s usage from Henricus Stephanus, Thesaurus Graecae Linguae, vol. 1 (Paris: Henricus Stephanus, 1572), col. 64. That Aristotle was actually using the word this way does not seem to be firmly established.

2 Interpretation of 2 Timothy: “[Paul] left out everything else that happened to him and called to mind only the dangers that he had met with in Pisidia and Lycaonia. For the one to whom he wrote was himself a Lycaonian, so these dangers were more familiar to him than the others” (Theodoret, Patrologiae Graecae, vol. 82, Theodoreti Cyrensis Episcopi Opera Omnia [Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1864], pp. 847,848).

Commentary on 2 Timothy: “He means the Antioch that was in Pisidia. Lystra was Timothy’s hometown. This is why he only mentions these places, since they were more familiar to Timothy. It could also be that they were the most recent places Paul visited” (Theophylact, Patrologiae Graecae, vol. 125, Theophylacti, Bulgariae Archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani, Opera Quae Reperiri Potuerunt Omnia [Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1864], pp. 121,122).

3 St. Gregory the Great, Patrologia Latina, vol. 77, Sancti Gregorii Papae I, Cognomento Magni, Opera Omnia (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1862), col. 886. The letter was addressed “To Narses, the Religious.” “The Narses here addressed as ‘Religiosus’ was probably the same as the ‘Narses Comes’ of I. 6, and VI. 14, and the ‘Narses Patricius’ of IV. 32. For it is evident from the letters that he was of high rank at Constantinople, and greetings are sent through him to the same persons as in the other letters. He had now, we may suppose, devoted himself to the service of the Church in some capacity” (www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf212.iii.v.vii.xviii.html, note 1710; accessed 3 November 2014).

4 A rhetorical device when several forms or cases of the same word stand together

5 E.g. Novi Testamenti Aeditio Postrema, per Des. Erasmum Roterodamum (Zurich: In Officina Froschoviana, 1541), p. 280. Gerhard incorrectly quotes Erasmus as translating inducunt instead of adducunt, but in this case the two are virtually synonymous.

6 Taking what is last and putting it first

Troublesome Times

A Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:1-5

By Johann Gerhard, Th.D.

Translator’s Preface

The following was translated from Adnotationes ad Posteriorem D. Pauli ad Timotheum Epistolam, in Quibus Textus Declaratur, Quaestiones Dubiae Solvuntur, Observationes Eruuntur, & Loca in Speciem Pugnantia quam Brevissime Conciliantur (Commentary on St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, in Which the Text Is Explained, Difficult Questions Are Answered, Observations Are Drawn Out, and Seemingly Contradictory Passages Are Reconciled as Concisely as Possible) by Johann Gerhard, Th.D. (Jena: Steinmann, 1643), pp. 53-57; available from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. The third edition (Leipzig, 1712), available from Lutheran Legacy, was also consulted.

Chief among the merits of Johann Gerhard is his ability, without wasting words, to familiarize the reader with the original Scripture text, the various available versions, and the remarks of the preeminent church fathers all at the same time.

In this particular section of his commentary on 2 Timothy, due to the nature of the content, he also familiarizes the reader with some secular classics. In so doing, he confirms the importance of a classical, liberal arts education for biblical interpretation and scholarship.

This translation was prepared in connection with an exegetical presentation assigned to me for a circuit meeting in Merrill, Wisconsin, on November 4, 2013, the day after the observance of the Lutheran Reformation. In going over it and digesting it, it struck me how well this portion of Scripture fits the context of a Reformation remembrance and celebration. Many of the characteristics of the troublesome times Paul warns about are precisely the characteristics Martin Luther noted, lamented, and battled in his time, ultimately leading him and his followers to separate from the Roman Catholic Church (2 Timothy 3:5).

Yet we would be fools to think that we are safe from these characteristics in the confessional Lutheran church. The same evils which grow in the garden of the Roman Catholic Church may be noted here and there in our own, and are always sprouting up in our own hearts. If we spend our time trumpeting our supposed superiority over other church bodies and denominations, we have become the very “boastful, arrogant” and “conceited” people against whom Paul warns (3:2,4). Yes, we have shown ourselves to possess that source trait of all evil traits – “lovers of self” (3:2).

My prayer then is that this work, and particularly the meditation on the Bible text to which it lends, leads us to be watchful rather than boastful, to be swollen with gratitude rather than with conceit, and to fall to our knees in humility rather than in despair. God graciously grant it for Jesus’ sake.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

This chapter has three parts:

  1. The apostle’s prophetic prediction about the circumstances of the end times (vv. 1-9),
  2. The patience that should be exhibited, illustrated by the apostolic example set forth for imitation (vv. 10-12), and
  3. A serious forewarning against seducers and an exhortation to unfold Holy Scripture diligently (vv. 13-17).

 1. Τοῦτο δὲ γίνωσκε, ὅτι ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις ἐνστήσονται καιροὶ χαλεποί

Hoc autem scito quod in novissimis diebus instabunt tempora periculosa

  • Τοῦτο δὲ γίνωσκε

Lest Timothy or anyone else be amazed or offended that evil people and hypocrites are multiplying in the church, he warns him in advance that this will be the case.

  • ὅτι ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις ἐνστήσονται καιροὶ χαλεποί

He understands ἡμέρας ἐσχάτας as the entire time spanning the distance between Christ’s first coming and his second coming, so that his prediction also pertains to Timothy’s times. For at the end of his warning he adds, “and avoid these people” (vs. 5). Therefore he is thinking of all the time subsequent to the apostolic age. Cf. 1 Timothy 4:1.

  • καιροὶ χαλεποί

The Vulgate translated this Greek phrase as tempora periculosa, “dangerous times.” But it is properly translated tempora difficilia, “difficult times” – times during which it is difficult for someone to get advice as to how to conduct himself in the face of such people. It can also be rendered tempora molesta, “troublesome times,” since nothing more troublesome can happen to a pious person than having to contend with people like this. Luther translated greuliche Zeiten, “horrible times.” It can also be rendered beschwerliche Zeiten, “oppressive times.”

Epithets of this kind are given to time metonymically, in view of the things that happen in time, especially in view of the morals and endeavors of the people who are going to prevail in those times. For we must note that the apostle does not identify the difficulties of the times by external evils, such as war, famine, plague, etc., but by humanity’s corrupt morals.

2. ἔσονται γὰρ οἱ ἄνθρωποι φίλαυτοι φιλάργυροι ἀλαζόνες ὑπερήφανοι βλάσφημοι, γονεῦσιν ἀπειθεῖς, ἀχάριστοι ἀνόσιοι

et erunt homines se ipsos amantes cupidi elati superbi blasphemi parentibus inoboedientes ingrati scelesti

  • ἔσονται γὰρ οἱ ἄνθρωποι φίλαυτοι

The Vulgate reads se ipsos amantes, “lovers of self.” Augustine provides an excellent explanation of the force of this description in Tractate 123 on John:

In some inexplicable way – I do not know how – whoever loves himself, not God, does not love himself. And whoever loves God, not himself – it is he who loves himself. For he who cannot live by himselfsurely dies by loving himself; therefore he does not love himself who loves himself to the point that he cannot live. But when he is loved by the One by whom life is lived, by not loving himself he loves more, when he does not love himself for this reason, that he may love Him by whom he lives.2

The apostle has set this vice in the first position because it is the  fountainhead and origin of the rest. Augustine says in the work just cited, “For when the apostle said, ‘For people will be lovers of themselves,’ he continued and added, ‘lovers of money, puffed up, arrogant, blasphemers…’ All these evils flow from that which he set first, as from a fountain, namely ‘lovers of themselves.’”He says the same thing in the beginning of his books on the city of God, that the love of self has built the city of the devil, just as the love of God has built the city of God.4

Theophylact comments on “lovers of themselves” in this verse: “At once he sets down the cause of all the evils – looking out not for one’s neighbor, but looking out only for oneself. For a φίλαυτος is someone who only loves himself, the result of which is that he does not even love himself.”5

Apparent Contradiction: “No one has ever hated his own flesh” (Eph 5:29). Yet in this verse the love of self is mentioned among the most grievous vices!

Response: We must distinguish between an ordinate or moderate love of self, which is spoken of in the passage, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and an inordinate or absurd love of self which this passage is talking about. Those who love themselves, or are lovers of self, are people seeking to gain things which are their own, who only pursue what is good for themselves.

  • φιλάργυροι

The Vulgate has cupidi, “desirous.” The Greek properly says amantes pecuniarum, “lovers of money,” or cupidi divitiarum, “desirous of wealth,” just as φίλαυτοι are desirous of honor.

  • ἀλαζόνες

The Vulgate has elati, “puffed up.” Ambrosiaster has insolentes, “insolent.”The Greek word properly signifies jactatorem, “a boaster,” gloriosum, “a vainglorious person,” or ostentatorem, “a show-off.” Luther has ruhmredig, “boastful.” Grammarians derive from ἄλη and ζῆν that it is properly one who tries to make a living by wandering, just like those who are called ἀγύρται, i.e. circulatores, “peddlers.” As a consequence, however, he turns into a boaster, show-off, or vaunter. Xenophon in Cyropaedia 2, 2, 12:

ὁ μὲν γὰρ ἀλαζὼν ἔμοιγε δοκεῖ ὄνομα κεῖσθαι ἐπὶ τοῖς προσποιουμένοις καὶ πλουσιωτέροις εἶναι ἢ εἰσὶ καὶ ἀνδρειοτέροις καὶ ποιήσειν ἃ μὴ ἱκανοί εἰσιν ὑπισχνουμένοις, καὶ ταῦτα φανεροῖς γιγνομένοις ὅτι τοῦ λαβεῖν τι ἕνεκα καὶ κερδᾶναι ποιοῦσιν.7

For to me, the name ἀλαζών seems to be given to those pretending to be both richer and more manly than they are, and to those professing to do what they are not capable of doing, and to those getting exposed for doing these things simply for the sake of getting something and making a profit.8

“Ulpianus, the expositor of Demosthenes, says that ἀλαζονείαν is used of people promising more than they can fulfill.”9

  • ὑπερήφανοι

These are superbi, “arrogant,” people who despise the lowly and weak, übersichtige, “presumptuous.”10 Ἀλαζονεία, a proud bearing in words and gestures, stems from ὑπερηφανίᾳ, arrogance lurking in the heart.

  • βλάσφημοι

These are maledici, “slanderous.” Some explain this to be referring to maledictis in Deum prolatis, “slanders directed against God.” But the Greek descriptor is general, denoting those who damage the reputation of others so that they alone might be elevated. Luther has Lästerer, “slanderers.”

  • γονεῦσιν ἀπειθεῖς

These are parentibus immorigeri, “disobedient to parents.” The Greek properly signifies those who do not allow themselves to be persuaded to show due obedience to their parents.11 The Syriac translated it as לאנָשַׁיהוּן לָא מֵתּטפִּיסִין, “not submitting to their own people.”12

  • ἀχάριστοι

Ἀπειθεῖς and ἀχάριστοι are listed together because ἀπείθεια, “disobedience,” stems from ἀχαριστίᾳ, “ingratitude.”

  • ἀνόσιοι

The Vulgate has scelesti, “villainous.” The Greek properly signifies profanos, “profane,” nefarios, “godless,” or contemtores religionis et sacrorum, “despisers of religion and sacred rites,” people who have no respect for what is holy and right to keep them from daring to perpetrate any wicked deeds. Luther has ungeistliche, “unspiritual.”

3. ἄστοργοι ἄσπονδοι διάβολοι ἀκρατεῖς ἀνήμεροι ἀφιλάγαθοι

sine affectione sine pace criminatores incontinentes inmites sine benignitate

  • ἄστοργοι

These are people in whom the natural affections toward parents, children, and brothers are completely extinguished. Luther has störrige, “stubborn.” The Vulgate has sine affectione, “without affection,” people who are moved by no affection of love toward their neighbor, not even toward those whom nature usually incites us to love most of all.

  • ἄσπονδοι

These are foedifragi, “perfidious,” or infidi, “unfaithful.” Σπόνδη signifies familiaritatem and amicitiam, “familiarity” and “friendship.” So ἄσπονδοι are those who do not keep agreements or who are implacable and do not let reconciliation take place. Ambrosiaster has sine fide, “without faith.”13 The Vulgate has sine pace, “without peace,” in this verse and absque foedere, “without agreement,” in Romans 1:31. Luther has unversöhnliche, “irreconcilable.”

  • διάβολοι

These are calumniatores, “calumniators,” people who suppress the innocence of others by their lies and made-up accusations. The Vulgate has criminatores, “accusers.” Luther has Schänder, “defilers.”

  • ἀκρατεῖς

These are incontinentes, “uncontrolled,” people who give themselves up to carnal pleasures. Luther has unkeusch, “unchaste.” The Vulgate has intemperantes, “immoderate.”

  • ἀνήμεροι

These are inhumani, “inhuman,” people possessed of a brute character. The Vulgate has inmites, “harsh.” Luther has wilde, “wild.”

  • ἀφιλάγαθοι

This can be understood of both persons and things, describing those who love neither a good thing nor good people. Ambrosiaster has bonorum inimici, “enemies of good people or good things.”14 The Syriac has סָניַי טָבָתָא, “haters of good things.”15 Luther has ungütige, “unkind.” But it is probably better to apply it to persons, so that it signifies those who are averse to friendship with good people and hate them because of the discrepancy in character.

4. προδόται προπετεῖς τετυφωμένοι, φιλήδονοι μᾶλλον ἢ φιλόθεοι

proditores protervi tumidi voluptatium amatores magis quam Dei

  • προδόται

These are proditores, “traitors,” or amicitiae desertores, “abandoners of friendship,” people who expose well-deserving friends to things that endanger their life.

  • προπετεῖς

These are praecipites, “rash,” or temerarii, “heedless,” people who follow the impulses of their desires without consideration and counsel. The Vulgate has protervi, “brash.” Luther has Frevler, “wanton offenders.”

  • τετυφωμένοι

These are inflati prae superbia, “inflated with arrogance,” or qui sibiipsis sunt Suffeni, “those who are each a Suffenus to themselves,”16 people who are swollen with conceit. The Vulgate has tumidi, “swollen.” Luther has aufgeblasen, “puffed up.”

  • φιλήδονοι μᾶλλον ἢ φιλόθεοι

These are voluptatum magis quam Dei amantes, “lovers of pleasures more than of God.” In Greek this is an elegant play on words.

Incidentally, since the apostle here is not only talking about wicked people in general, but also about false teachers, Augustine makes elegant work of applying all these descriptions to false teachers in Tractate 123 on John. He says:

Let those who feed the sheep of Christ not be “lovers of themselves.” Otherwise they will feed the sheep as if the sheep were their own, and not as Christ’s sheep, and they will want to make their own profits from them, just like the “lovers of money,” or they will lord it over them, just like the “puffed up,” or they will glory in the honors they get from them, just like the “arrogant,” or they will go so far as even to create heresies, just like the “blasphemers.” They will part ways with the holy fathers, just like those who are “disobedient to their parents,” and to those who wish to correct them because they do not want them to perish they will repay evil for good, just like the “ungrateful.” They will destroy their own souls and the souls of others, just like the “villainous.” They will scatter the motherly offspring of the Church, just like the “irreligious.” They will not have compassion for the weak, just like those “without affection.” They will attempt to defile the reputation of the saints, just like the “detractors.” They will not rein in the basest desires, just like the “uncontrolled.” They will occupy themselves with disputes, just like the “harsh.” They will be ignorant of how to lend help, just like those “without kindness.” They will make known to the enemies of the pious what they know ought to be kept secret, just like the “traitors.” They will embarrass human modesty by stirring up what is immodest, just like the “shameless.” They will understand neither what they are saying nor the things about which they are affirming [1Ti 1:7], just like the “blinded.”17 They will prefer carnal delights to spiritual joys, just like those who are “lovers of pleasures more than of God.” For these vices and others like them – whether all of them befall one human or some rule in these while others rule in those – sprout in some measure from that one root, namely when people are “lovers of themselves.” This vice must be most diligently guarded against by those who feed the sheep of Christ…18

5. ἔχοντες μόρφωσιν εὐσεβείας τὴν δὲ δύναμιν αὐτῆς ἠρνημένοι · καὶ τούτους ἀποτρέπου

habentes speciem quidem pietatis virtutem autem eius abnegantes et hos devita

  • ἔχοντες μόρφωσιν εὐσεβείας τὴν δὲ δύναμιν αὐτῆς ἠρνημένοι

The Vulgate reads: habentes speciem quidem pietatis virtutem autem eius abnegantes, “having at least a form of piety, but refusing its power.”

The Greek μόρφωσις properly signifies formationem, “a shaping.” Ambrosiaster reads formam, “a shape.”19

  1. Some understand this to mean a speciem, imaginem, or similitudinem pietatis, “kind, image, or likeness of piety,” so that it is spoken against hypocrites and the sense is this: In external words and gestures they put on a show of piety, but in reality they do not have it, or rather they are so foreign to piety that they seem to have refused it and sworn off it.
  2. Others think that the apostle is reprimanding those who do a beautiful job prescribing to others whatever deed must be done, even though they themselves are the last ones to carry out those deeds (Mt 23:3). For μόρφωσις signifies a philosophy of educating and training that says that when the teacher prescribes something to the pupil, he ought to speak or conduct himself the same way (Ro 2:20).

But both of these interpretations can be combined. For those who prescribe rules of piety to others and do not observe them themselves have but a μόρφωσιν of piety.

The δύναμις εὐσεβείας consists of true faith in Christ, “which purifies the heart” (Ac 15:9), of spiritual and inner obedience of the heart (1Ti 1:5), of ἀνυποκρίτῳ and sincere love for God and one’s neighbor. This is also what it means “to live piously in Christ” (2Ti 3:12).

Some want δύναμιν to be treated like ἀλήθειαν, for the truth of nature is understood from the power and working of everything in nature.

Paul does not write ἀρνημένοι, a present tense participle, as the Vulgate has translated it with abnegantes, but ἠρνημένοι, a past tense participle, inficiati, “having denied.”

  • καὶ τούτους ἀποτρέπου

The Vulgate has devita, “avoid.” The Greek properly signifies illos aversare, “turn yourself away from them,” namely by:

  1. neither agreeing with them nor approving of them,
  2. drawing yourself away from their midst, and
  3. not putting on a yoke with them.

From this apostolic admonition we conclude that Paul is speaking in such a way about the future that he might show at the same time that this kind of people will also not be lacking in Timothy’s time. Otherwise it would not have been worth the effort to urge Timothy to turn himself away from them.

Endnotes

1 “By himself” not in the sense of “alone,” but in the sense that he cannot make himself live.

2 J.-P. Migne, ed., Sancti Aurelii Augustini, Hipponensis Episcopi, Opera Omnia, vol. 3, part 2 (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1864), col. 1968.

3 Ibid., col. 1967-1968.

4 Gerhard’s citation lends itself to confusion. First, the quote can be said to come from “the beginning of [Augustine’s] books on the city of God” only if one understands said books in the narrow sense, namely the second part of De Civitate Dei, Books 11-22, which properly deal with the origin, nature, etc. of the two cities. Secondly, Gerhard is paraphrasing Augustine. The opening lines of Book 14, Chapter 28, read: “Accordingly, two loves have made two cities. The love of self, even to contempt of God, has made the earthly city, but the love of God, even to contempt of self, has made the heavenly city” (J.-P. Migne, ed., Sancti Aurelii Augustini, Hipponensis Episcopi, Opera Omnia, vol. 7 [Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1864], col. 436). Cf. Saint Augustine, The City of God, trans. Marcus Dods (New York: The Modern Library, 1993), p. 477.

5 J.-P. Migne, ed., Theophylacti, Bulgariae Archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani, Opera Quae Reperiri Potuerunt Omnia, vol. 3 (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1864), col. 115, 116.

6 J.-P. Migne, ed., Sancti Ambrosii Mediolanensis Episcopi Opera Omnia, vol. 2, part 2 (Paris: Vrayet de Surcy, 1845), col. 493.

7 Xenophon, Cyropaedia I, trans. Walter Miller (New York: The MacMillan Co., 1914), p. 162.

8 Cf. ibid., p. 163. Gerhard does not include the last clause, since he is citing a partial quote from Henricus Stephanus, Thesaurus Graecae Linguae, vol. 1 (Paris: Henricus Stephanus, 1572), col. 306.

9 Ibid., col. 307.

10 Transferred sense of übersichtig. It is properly used of one who has a real or perceived sight defect – a blink-eyed person, a person with a sideways glance, or someone who has oblique, distorted eyes so that he squints strongly. From this it came to be used of someone who looks disapprovingly or disparagingly at others whom he considers to be inferior to himself.

11 Gerhard is probably overdoing the exegesis here.

12 Peshitta New Testament text viewable here.

13 Rf. endnote 6.

14 Ibid.

15 Rf. endnote 12.

16 Gerhard is alluding to poem 22 in Catullus’ Carmina. The entire poem is about a poet named Suffenus, a nice, pleasant, witty man who had written “a thousand or ten thousand or more” verses and published them with the finest available materials. Yet in spite of his otherwise pleasant and witty character and the fancy dress of his poems, Catullus lambasts Suffenus’ poems as worthy only of a goatherd or a ditch-digger. He analyzes: “So much he’s altered from the man he was. | How can this be? and what can be the cause? | Yet he that but just now in others’ sense | Was destitute of every excellence, | Was made the common jest of all the town, | And thought much more unlearned than a clown, | Is wise, and to perfection, in his own. | When he puts pen to paper and indites, | No man so blest as he in what he writes. | He joys so much, and wonders at his skill, | As if the Muses had inspired his quill.” Catullus then concludes: “No wonder; all are subject to mistakes; | None but in something a Suffenus makes. | Our neighbour’s bunch upon his back is known, | But we forget what rises from our own” (Walter K. Kelly, tr., ed., The Poems of Catullus and Tibullus, and the Vigil of Venus [London: George Bell and Sons, 1887], p. 191). Rf. the original here.

17 Even though Augustine was not known for his ability in Greek, he appears to exhibit some familiarity with the Greek text here. He substitues caecati, “blinded,” for the Vulgate’s tumidi, “swollen.” Both are acceptable translations of the Greek τετυφωμένοι. Cf. BDAG ad τυφόω, 1 & 2.

18 Rf. endnote 2.

19 Rf. endnote 6.