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.


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.

Commentary on 1 Timothy 4:12

By Johann Gerhard, Th. D.

Translator’s Preface

The following was translated from Adnotationes ad Priorem D. Pauli ad Timotheum Epistolam, in Quibus Textus Declaratur, Quaestiones Dubiae Solvuntur, Observationes Eruunter, & Loca in Speciem Pugnantia Quam Brevissime Conciliantur (Commentary on St. Paul’s First Letter to Timothy, in Which the Text Is Explained, Difficult Questions Are Answered, Observations Are Drawn, and Seemingly Contradictory Passages Are Reconciled as Concisely as Possible), 3rd ed. (Leipzig, 1712), pp. 68,69, available from

It was undertaken in conjunction with preparations for a graduation sermon to be delivered at a Lutheran high school. The translations of the church fathers in the footnotes are the translator’s own.

Through it may God encourage young pastors and Christians not to demand respect, but to earn, win, and compel it from believers and unbelievers by godly words and actions.

1 Timothy 4:12

Μηδείς σου τῆς νεότητος καταφρονείτω ἀλλὰ τύπος γίνου τῶν πιστῶν ἐν λόγῳ ἐν ἀναστροφῇ ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐν πνεύματι ἐν πίστει ἐν ἁγνείᾳ.

Nemo adulescentiam tuam contemnat sed exemplum esto fidelium in verbo in conversatione in caritate in fide in castitate.

  • Μηδείς σου τῆς νεότητος καταφρονείτω

The Greeks interpret thus: μὴ πάρεχε αἰτίαν τινὶ τοῦ καταφρονῆσαι τῆς νεότητός σου [Do not afford anyone an occasion to look down on your youth].1 The phrase can be taken two ways:

  1. Do not allow yourself, even though you are young, to be despised by those over whom you have charge, but exercise the authority of your office (Titus 2:15).
  2. Conduct yourself with such dignity, chastity, moderation, and prudence that no one may regard you as inferior because of your age. Behave in such a way that no one may have just cause for despising your youth.

The second sense is acquired from the antithesis.

Youth covers a range of ages that stretches beyond age 30, lest anyone think that Timothy was a young man of 20 or so years when Paul was writing this to him. In Acts 7:58 Paul is called a νεάνιος [young man] at a time when he was nearly 35 years old.

Conclusion: Lest Timothy be held in low esteem because of his youth, the apostle instructs him to show himself to the faithful as an example and pattern according to which they may order their lives and adjust their actions.

  • Ἀλλὰ τύπος γίνου τῶν πιστῶν

A τύπος is a distinct pattern to which something else corresponds as an ἀντίτυπον, so to speak.

  • Ἐν λόγῳ

Paraphrase: “You should set forth the doctrine of the divine word with integrity,” or, “You should speak with dignity and prudence for the edification of others.” The former interpretation is confirmed by 2 Corinthians 6:7, where Paul adds two words: ἐν λόγῳ τῆς ἀληθείας [in speech of the truth].

  • Ἐν ἀναστροφῇ

Paraphrase: “You should build others up by living your everyday life in a holy way.”

  • Ἐν ἀγάπῃ

Paraphrase: “Charity2 toward your neighbor should shine out from all your actions.”

  • Ἐν πνεύματι

That is, “in zeal of the Spirit, in pious devotion, in holiness.” Chrysostom and the interpreters of the Vulgate do not include this phrase. Theophylact and Oecumenius interpret πνεύμα here as a spiritual character or special gift, as if the apostle were warning Timothy not to be puffed up by living this way.3 But it is more properly understood as the Holy Spirit (see 2 Corinthians 6:6), which yields this sense: Timothy ought to demonstrate with his deeds that he has the ardor of the Holy Spirit and the zeal of God.

  • Ἐν πίστει

Paraphrase: “You should preach the faith boldly,” or, “You should exhibit your faith by your good works” (see James 2:17,18).

  • Ἐν ἁγνείᾳ

Paraphrase: “You should exhibit purity in words and actions.”

Ἐκδίκησις4: Estius5 seeks proof for the celibacy of the priests in this phrase, since being content with one wife “is the basest kind of chastity.”6 We respond:

  1. Ἅγνεια also signifies purity or immunity from carnal human desires.
  2. Conjugal chastity is often more honorable than virginal chastity.
  3. Even the papists acknowledge that celibacy does not come from divine right.


1 Homily 13 on 1 Timothy: “ ‘Let no one despise your youth,’ he says. Do you see that the priest should also command and speak with strong authority, and not just teach everything? For I think you’ll agree that youth has become a thing easy to despise in the common mind. So he says, ‘Let no one despise your youth.’ For it is also necessary that the teacher be unable to be despised. ‘Then what about gentleness?’ you might ask. ‘Then what about meekness, if he may not be despised?’ In matters where he alone is concerned, let him be despised and let him bear it. For in this way his teaching will prosper by his patient endurance. But in matters where others are concerned, he should tolerate it no longer. For that is not gentleness, but coldness. If a man avenges insults to himself, injuries to himself, plots against himself, you have good reason to accuse him. But where the salvation of others is concerned, command and take care of the matter with authority. What’s needed then is not gentleness, but authority, lest it do harm to the entire community. ‘Either command,’ he says, ‘or teach. Let no one despise you on account of your youth. For as long as you exhibit a life with this kind of counterbalance, no one will despise you because of your age any longer, and they will even admire you instead’ ” (John Chrysostom, Patrologiae Graecae, vol. 62, S. P. N. Joannis Chrysostomi, Archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani, Opera Omnia Quae Exstant [Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1862], pp. 564,565).

Interpretation of 1 Timothy: “ ‘Let no one despise your youth.’ But this does not have to do with me. Why then do you command me about things that concern others? ‘But be an example to the faithful.’ ‘Do you wish,’ he says, ‘not to be despised as you are commanding [vs. 11]? Become a living law. Show in yourself the perfection of the laws you lay down. Make your life bear witness to your message’ ” (Theodoret, Patrologiae Graecae, vol. 82, Theodoreti Cyrensis Episcopi Opera Omnia [Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1864], pp. 815,816).

Commentary on 2 Timothy: “ ‘Since the common opinion regards youth as a thing easy to despise,’ he says, ‘command with strong authority and do not let anyone despise you.’ For it is also necessary that the teacher be unable to be despised. Then what about meekness? When there is need to avenge insults to himself, let him be meek. But when there is need for austerity for the sake of the salvation of others, let him command boldly. Another interpretation: ‘Exhibit a decent life, and your youth will not be despised, even though it is naturally easy to despise. It will rather be admired’ ” (Theophylact, Patrologiae Graecae, vol. 125, Theophylacti, Bulgariae Archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani, Opera Quae Reperiri Potuerunt Omnia [Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1864], pp. 57-60).

Commentary on 2 Timothy: “ ‘Let no one despise your youth.’ For it is also necessary that the bishop speak with strong authority. Then what about, ‘Let your gentleness be known to all people’ [Philippians 4:5]? To that we answer: Among people who are wronging only him, he ought to be meek. But among people who are wronging erring brothers, let him be austere. Or you could take it this way: ‘If you lead an exceptionally decent life, your youth will not be despised, even though it has a natural tendency to be despised’ ” (Oecumenius, Patrologiae Graecae, vol. 119, Oecumenii, Triccae in Thessalia Episcopi, Opera Omnia [Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1864], pp. 171,172).

2 “ ‘Charity’ now means simply what used to be called ‘alms’—that is, giving to the poor. Originally it had a much wider meaning. … Charity means ‘Love, in the Christian sense’. But love, in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion. It is a state not of the feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we have naturally about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity [New York, NY: HarperOne, 2001], p. 129). Lewis’ entire chapter “Charity” is worth reading.

3 “Ἐν πνεύματι. Either with a spiritual character or with a special spiritual gift (ἢ τῷ χαρίσματι), so that you do not become puffed up by your charity toward everyone” (Theophylact, op. cit., 59,60).

Oecumenius differs very little and translates into English exactly the same (op. cit., 171,172).

4 Ἐκδίκησις means avenging or vindication. Gerhard includes these as opportunities to let the opponents of specific points of Lutheran doctrine (usually Estius) speak their part, in order to vindicate the Lutheran position as the biblical one and prove the opposing position unbiblical.

5 Gerhard cites this eminent Roman Catholic theologian (1542-1613) throughout the commentary. In addition to refuting him, Gerhard borrows much of his work in phrasing his own interpretation.

6 Guilielmus Estius, In Omnes Pauli Epistolas, Item in Catholicas Commentarii, vol. 5 (Mainz: Kirchheim, Schott, & Theilmann, 1843), p. 203.

Gerhard himself would have referred to the original Douai edition (1614-16).

Not Ashamed of the Cross

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, and Seemingly Contradictory Passages Are Reconciled as Concisely as Possible) by Johann Gerhard (Jena: Steinmann, 1643), pp. 18-25, with an insertion from pp. 8,9; available from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. A later edition (3rd ed. [Leipzig, 1712]; available from Lutheran Legacy) was also consulted.

The translation was originally presented as a supplement to an exegesis prepared for a pastoral circuit meeting. Everything is Gerhard’s except the footnotes and formatting. With regard to these, the reader may note the following:

  • Each entire verse in both Greek and Latin (Vulgate) has been placed at the head of Gerhard’s comments on that verse.
  • Gerhard’s sources have been more precisely cited when possible. Many of them are available for free download on Google Books.
  • The Greek variants – words, not punctuation – of Gerhard’s text have been retained, but noted.
  • Gerhard used italics whenever he was either quoting or paraphrasing the interpretation of another. In the case of quotations, I have used quotation marks followed by a footnoted reference. In the case of paraphrases, the commentary itself identifies the paraphrase just fine without italics; the work(s) paraphrased has been referenced in a footnote when possible.
  • The map “The Roman Empire in AD 69” below was obtained from the Ancient World Mapping Center. It is copyrighted (Ancient World Mapping Center, 2004), but “may be reproduced and redistributed freely for non-profit, personal or educational use only.”

The translator owes a debt of gratitude to a professor at Martin Luther College for help with an obscure reference, a few difficult phrases, and some final polishing touches.

He owes his deepest appreciation, however, to his God and Savior, without whose free salvation, abundant gifts, and daily blessing neither Gerhard’s work nor his would have any worth, usefulness, or existence.

His prayer is that this work, long bound up in a tongue increasingly (and sadly) foreign to many, will redound to the reader’s spiritual benefit and the glory of Christ. God grant it for the sake of his Son.

Commentary on 2 Timothy 1:11-18

11. εἰς ὃ ἐτέθην ἐγὼ κῆρυξ καὶ ἀπόστολος καὶ διδάσκαλος ἐθνῶν

in quo positus sum ego praedicator et apostolus et magister gentium

  • Εἰς ὃ ἐτέθην ἐγώ

The Vulgate reads, “in which…” But the Greek says, “into which” or “to which I was appointed,” that is, by Christ.

  • Κῆρυξ καὶ ἀπόστολος καὶ διδάσκαλος ἐθνῶν

The apostle describes his office with three names. He calls himself:

  1. κήρυκα, a public herald presenting commands in the name of the King of heaven;
  2. ἀπόστολον, an ambassador of Christ discharging the office of apostleship, an office entrusted to him by God; and
  3. τῶν ἐθνῶν διδάσκαλον, sent primarily to teach the gentiles and call them to the fellowship (consortium) of the kingdom of Christ. For he and Peter had reached an agreement, that he would preach the gospel with Barnabas among the gentiles, and Peter with James and John among the Jews. Yet this should not be taken in an exclusive way. Galatians 2:9 in particular is simply mindful of the divine call described in Acts 22:21: “Go, because I will send you to the gentiles far away.”

12. δι᾿ ἣν αἰτίαν καὶ ταῦτα πάσχω ἀλλ᾿ οὐκ ἐπαισχύνομαι οἶδα γὰρ ᾧ πεπίστευκα καὶ πέπεισμαι ὅτι δυνατός ἐστιν τὴν παρακαταθήκην1 μου φυλάξαι εἰς ἐκείνην τὴν ἡμέραν

ob quam causam etiam haec patior sed non confundor scio enim cui credidi et certus sum quia potens est depositum meum servare in illum diem

  •  Δι᾿ ἣν αἰτίαν καὶ ταῦτα πάσχω

With ταῦτα he has in mind the prison in which he was being detained and the fetters with which he was being restrained. The sense is: “Because I have been appointed by God as a herald of the gospel and an apostle and a teacher of the gentiles, therefore I have been thrown into this prison and these chains.”

  • Ἀλλ᾿ οὐκ ἐπαισχύνομαι

Paraphrase: “I do not feel ashamed of these chains, which I am enduring on account of the preaching of the gospel.” He is alluding to verse 8 in which the same verb ἐπαισχύνεσθαι is used. It’s as if he were saying, “Therefore do not be ashamed of either the gospel or my chains.”

  • Οἶδα γὰρ ᾧ πεπίστευκα

He cites the reason why he regrets neither the gospel nor his chains.

Some want πιστεύειν here to have the sense of entrusting, since mention of a deposit immediately follows. This would yield the sense: “I know how powerful, faithful, kind, and truthful the Lord is, to whom I have committed my deposit for preservation.” But it is more proper to take πιστεύειν in the customary sense of believing: “I know in whom I have had faith ever since I was converted. My faith does not rest on a sandy and slippery foundation, but on a sure and immovable one.”

  • Καὶ πέπεισμαι ὅτι δυνατός ἐστιν τὴν παρακαταθήκην μου φυλάξαι

Concerning the verb πέπεισμαι, see what was said at verse 5.

***** [The following are Gerhard’s comments on 1:5] *****

  • Πέπεισμαι δὲ ὅτι καὶ ἐν σοὶ (sc. ἐνοικῇ ἀνυπόκριτος πίστις)

The Vulgate has rendered the verb πέπεισμαι, certus sum, “I am certain.” Others have rendered it, persuasum habeo or persuasus sum, “I am convinced or persuaded.”

The papists wish to prove from this passage that the certainty of grace is unable to be proved from Romans 8:38, since it is used here only of a moral certainty and not of an immovable certainty of faith, as also in Romans 15:14.

We respond:

  1. The verb πέπεισμαι is taken in two ways. First, it is taken abstractly, in which case it often signifies any kind of likely opinion. Secondly, it is taken concretely or in a material sense. When it is taken this way, it receives various meanings in keeping with the various subject material. For words ἐκ τῶν πολλαχῶς λεγομένων (taken from expressions used in many ways) obtain various meanings in keeping with the various subjects. When the word πέπεισμαι is understood about others, it is understood not ἀποδεικτικὴν2 but τοπικήν.3 It does not signify a certainty of faith and infallible truth, but a charitable persuasion, i.e. a likely opinion, because we are not able to determine anything about our neighbor a priori,4 but only a posteriori,5 i.e. from what he has produced or done. But when it is used about us, it denotes a sure and immovable persuasion, which is the certainty of faith and of the truth, because it rests on an immovable and immutable foundation, namely the promise of God and the testimony of the Holy Spirit.
  2. The papists themselves are compelled to acknowledge that Paul uses this verb about himself in verse 12 of this very chapter: πέπεισμαι ὅτι δυνατός ἐστιν. (But then they teach that Paul was sure about the grace of God and his own salvation only through some special revelation of God [s. Pistorius, In Hedeg., p. 201; Duraeus, Contra Witaker., f. 259].) Therefore when Paul uses the verb πέπεισμαι about himself, he is using it with a different meaning than in this passage [vs. 5] about Timothy.
  3. Consequently Guilielmus Estius reflects on this passage:6

[T]he word [πέπεισμαι] is generally used to denote a persuasion by which something is regarded as certain, either with what they call a moral certainty or with a certainty produced by divine authority, that is, the certainty of faith. For by faith the apostle was certain that God was able to guard his deposit [vs. 12]. However, he did not know in the same way that an unfeigned faith was dwelling in Timothy, but he had learned it by long experience and therefore was humanly sure of it.7

***** [This ends Gerhard’s comments on 1:5] *****

Some take παρακαταθήκην to mean the deposit that God had entrusted and committed to Paul, namely the deposit of grace and preaching, and the people who were already converted and were yet to be converted by his work. (In approximately this sense the apostle John is said to have spoken about a young man whom he had entrusted to someone else.8) They cite Acts 20:32, “παρατίθεμαι you to God,” as an example of this meaning. But it is more properly understood as the deposit of eternal life and happiness which God had laid aside for Paul in heaven or, as it is called in 4:8, “the crown of righteousness,” which God promises to faithful heralds of the gospel. The following interpretations run along the same lines:

  1. Some take deposit to mean Paul’s life, health, and safety (cf. 1 Peter 4:19).
  2. Others take it to mean good works, done with the hope of eternal reward.
  3. Others understand the payment for the works itself, which is said to be laid aside with God, seeing as a person does not receive his payment immediately after his work is done, but he patiently awaits the time when he will be paid. This takes place in full on the day of judgment.
  • Φυλάξαι

Paraphrase: “Neither the devil nor the world are able to snatch away that glory promised to me.”

  • Εἰς ἐκείνην τὴν ἡμέραν

He means the last day, Judgment Day, on which God will distribute to faithful heralds of the gospel the rewards he has promised.

13. ὑποτύπωσιν ἔχε ὑγιαινόντων λόγων ὧν παρ᾿ ἐμοῦ ἤκουσας ἐν πίστει καὶ ἀγάπῃ τῇ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ

formam habe sanorum verborum quae a me audisti in fide et dilectione in Christo Iesu

  • Ὑποτύπωσιν ἔχε ὑγιαινόντων λόγων

He moves on to the second part of his exhortation about preserving the deposit of the pure doctrine.9

Some translate ὑποτύπωσιν, “distinct pattern” (expressam formam); others, “likeness or sketch” (imaginem & delineationem); still others, “representation” (informationem). The Vulgate translator used this last rendering in 1 Timothy 1:16.10

Most take this noun to mean a brief outline, description, or document that Timothy has in front of him, which is also the guideline he conforms to in his teaching. We grant that it is a metaphor, taken from artists who, when setting about to paint a picture, first make a rough sketch of it. Then, when they want to add the living colors, they follow the guidance of those lines, so that the ὑποτύπωσις is the same as the σκιαγραφία.11 But the noun ὑποτύπωσις here does not just mean the pattern and method of teaching, but also the actual foundation of the doctrine.

  • Ὑγιαινόντων λόγων

Estius remarks that the apostle has made mention of words “because the doctrine of the gospel was being handed down through words and discourses more than in writing. That is also why the apostle adds, ‘which you heard from me.’ ”12

We respond:

  1. The second letter to Timothy was written not long before Paul’s death. By that time both the four writings of the Evangelists and the apostolic letters were available to the Church. Therefore at that time the doctrine of the gospel was not only handed down through the living voice, but also in writing.
  2. What the apostles first heralded with the living voice they later handed down to us in the Scriptures by the will of God as the foundation and pillar of our faith for the future. Therefore there is no real difference whatsoever between apostolic preaching and the apostolic Scriptures.
  • Ἐν πίστει καὶ ἀγάπῃ

There are three interpretations given for this phrase:

  1. Some connect it with the words immediately preceding, “which you heard from me,” so that the sense is: “which you heard from me with faith and charity. Not only were you applying faith to my discourses, but you were also adding the affection of charity, in which you were seeking out not what belongs to you, but what belongs to Christ.”
  2. Others connect it with the words that are more removed, “Have the pattern of sounds words.” They explain it this way: “Have the pattern of sound words with faith and charity. These two things will prove that you are not departing from that pattern.”
  3. Still others also connect it with those more removed words, but they bring out a different sense, which they express this way: “Keep the pattern of sound words, that is, sound doctrine, which deals with faith and love. Keep the pattern in such a way that you preserve the integrity of faith and the sincerity of love.” For faith and love are the two chief divisions of Christian doctrine. Luther translates: “Halte an dem Vorbilde der heilsamen Worte…vom Glauben und von der Liebe [Hold to the pattern of the wholesome words…about faith and love].” This sense best fits the context.
  • Τῇ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ

The Vulgate has rendered this phrase, in Christo Iesu, “in Christ Jesus.” But the article τῇ in Greek should not have been skipped over: “which is in Christ Jesus.” The same Vulgate translator expresses this article in this way in 1 Timothy 1:14.13

14. τὴν καλὴν παρακαταθήκην14 φύλαξον διὰ πνεύματος ἁγίου τοῦ ἐνοικοῦντος ἐν ἡμῖν

bonum depositum custodi per Spiritum Sanctum qui habitat in nobis

  • Τὴν καλὴν παρακαταθήκην φύλαξον

The noun deposit in this passage is not used here in same sense it was used in what just preceded (vs. 12), but in the sense it was used in 1 Timothy 6:20: “O Timothy, guard the deposit, avoiding contemporary jargon…”15 There this noun was understood to mean the gospel’s doctrine which he had entrusted to Timothy.

Here he calls the doctrine of the gospel about Christ “the good deposit,” not just on account of its good author, good material or contents, or good purpose, but also on account of its good effect, namely that this doctrine makes humans good.

Καλὴν can also be translated, “beautiful, excellent, or splendid (deposit).” What he had a little earlier called the sound discourses which had been heard from him (vs. 13), he now calls the splendid deposit.

Estius comments on this passage:

This passage should be noted in opposition to the heretics, who cannot produce any deposit of this kind, i.e. the doctrine handed down and received from the apostles through successors in an unbroken series from that time to the present, unless perhaps they say that this deposit is Holy Scripture. But this cannot be said. For Paul had not deposited Holy Scripture with Timothy, but the doctrine handed down by himself through word of mouth. Besides, what sort of deposit is it, if it is shared by nearly every heretical sect? So then Scripture, which itself we also have handed down from the apostles, is one part of the deposit, but not the whole and complete deposit, which the Catholic Church alone preserves.16

The necessary response to this argument we have set forth in On the Nature of Theology and Scripture, § 406,17 and in The Catholic Confession, Book I, Part 2, Chapter 5, Arguments of the Adversaries, no. 6.18

  • Διὰ πνεύματος ἁγίου τοῦ ἐνοικοῦντος ἐν ἡμῖν

He shows the way to guard the deposit he just mentioned, namely through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Estius thinks that ἐν ἡμῖν refers to “the overseers of the Church, by whose ministry that deposit is preserved in the Church through the Holy Spirit promised to them.”19

But it is more proper to take it as referring to the whole Church and all her true and living members. The preservation of this deposit is entrusted also to them, and the Holy Spirit’s grace is promised also to them.

15. οἶδας τοῦτο ὅτι ἀπεστράφησάν με πάντες οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ ὧν ἐστιν Φύγελος καὶ Ἑρμογένης

scis hoc quod aversi sunt a me omnes qui in Asia sunt ex quibus est Phygelus et Hermogenes

  • Οἶδας τοῦτο ὅτι ἀπεστράφησάν με πάντες οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ

He recalls this occasion of many people deserting him in order that he might cheer Timothy up and encourage him, for Timothy might have been disturbed by that occurrence when he heard about it.

  • Ἀπεστράφησάν με

The Vulgate has rendered this phrase, aversi sunt a me, “they have turned away from me.” Properly speaking, the Greek phrase means, aversati sunt me, “they have turned me away or rejected me.”

  • Οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ

Some, especially the Greek commentators,20 take τοὺς ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ to mean those originally from Asia who were at Rome when the apostle was being held prisoner there, so that the preposition in stands for from.21

But others retain the natural meaning of the particle ἐν and still understand those who were from Asia, since the apostle says οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ in an indefinite way. Therefore they judge that the apostle is speaking about those who seemed to put their confidence in the apostle and to adhere to him when he was preaching in Asia, but abandoned him when he came to Rome and they saw him thrown into prison.

Others want the apostle to be talking about those who were in Asia when the apostle was writing this letter. The fact that οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ is preceded by οἶδας τοῦτο favors this interpretation. For Timothy was occupying himself in Asia and could have known what was happening there, but not what was happening at Rome.

The Roman Empire in AD 69

By τοῖς ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ he understands Asia Minor and converts from the Jews, but not from the gentiles. Whether they rejected the faith or person of Paul is not expressed, but the latter seems more likely, for they seem to have been somewhat fearful that they would get involved in danger together with him.22 Of course, this aversion to his person could easily lead to abandoning the faith.

  • Ὧν ἐστιν Φύγελος καὶ Ἑρμογένης

These two men were doubtlessly more harsh and deceitful toward Paul than the rest.

Tertullian in The Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 3, counts Phygelus and Hermogenes among the deserters of the Church.23

Concerning Phygelus, Symeon Metaphrastes relates in his sermon about the apostles Peter and Paul that he was appointed by Peter as bishop for the Ephesians, but later turned believing Jews away from the faith. But the faith of the renowned Metaphrastes himself is exceedingly slippery.

Tertullian wrote Against Hermogenes. But it is clear from those very words of Tertullian that he was a different Hermogenes. He says, “[N]or has he, an apostolic Hermogenes, continued steadfastly in the rule [of faith].”24 He calls him “an apostolic Hermogenes,” namely the one whom the apostle has mentioned in this letter.

16. δῴη ἔλεος ὁ κύριος τῷ Ὀνησιφόρου οἴκῳ ὅτι πολλάκις με ἀνέψυξεν καὶ τὴν ἅλυσίν μου οὐκ ἐπαισχύνθη

det misericordiam Dominus Onesifori domui quia saepe me refrigeravit et catenam meam non erubuit

  • Δῴη ἔλεος ὁ κύριος τῷ Ὀνησιφόρου οἴκῳ

Paraphrase: “May God be kind and well-disposed toward him. God grant that he find mercy.”

This is an exception to the general clause, “all who are in Asia have rejected me.” For Onesiphorus was a native of Asia, as can be gathered from the end of this letter where he says, “Greet the household of Onesiphorus” (4:19). Indeed, it is thought that he was an Ephesian on account of that which immediately follows: “And you know well to what great extent he ministered in Ephesus” (1:18).

  • Diagram of the etesian winds in southeastern Europe

    Ὅτι πολλάκις με ἀνέψυξεν

Paraphrase: “He refreshed me with his beneficence.” The kind acts and encouragements shown to the pious are like the etesian winds during the dog days of summer.

  • Καὶ τὴν ἅλυσίν μου οὐκ ἐπαισχύνθη

Paraphrase: “He did not feel ashamed of my chains like the rest of the Asians.”

17. ἀλλὰ γενόμενος ἐν Ῥώμῃ σπουδαιότερον25 ἐζήτησέν με καὶ εὗρεν

sed cum Romam venisset sollicite me quaesivit et invenit

Paraphrase: “It is so far from the truth that he was ashamed of my chains that, when he was here in Rome, he became aware that I was being held a prisoner in chains on account of the preaching of the gospel, searched for me very eagerly, and did not rest until he found me.”

Question: Why did he need to do all that searching?

Answer: First, there was not just one, but several prisons in which those waiting to appear before Caesar’s tribunal were being detained. Secondly, “Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with a soldier guarding him” (Acts 28:16).26

18. δῴη αὐτῷ ὁ κύριος εὑρεῖν ἔλεος παρὰ κυρίου ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ὅσα ἐν Ἐφέσῳ διηκόνησεν βέλτιον σὺ γινώσκεις

det illi Dominus invenire misericordiam a Domino in illa die et quanta Ephesi ministravit melius tu nosti

  • Δῴη αὐτῷ ὁ κύριος εὑρεῖν ἔλεος παρὰ κυρίου ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ

The apostle looks back at what he just wrote. “Just as Onesiphorus sought and found me in Rome, so may the Lord grant that he also find mercy.”

Estius thinks that there is a Hebraism in the words, “The Lord grant that he find mercy from the Lord,” such as is also supposedly found in the words of Genesis 19:24: “The Lord rained down from the Lord,” so that the sense is: “The Lord grant that he [Onesiphorus] find mercy from himself [the Lord].” “For Hebrews are accustomed to repeat the antecedent where one would expect a reflexive pronoun.”27

We respond:

  1. We are neither ignorant of nor deny that Hebraism, but we deny that it fits this passage.
  2. For we are not compelled by any necessity to depart from the customary and natural meaning, as though we did not consider it to be in utmost conformity with the analogy of faith.
  3. For, since Christ has been appointed by God the Father to be the judge of the living and the dead (Jn 5:22; Ac 10:42), the apostle is praying for Onesiphorus that God the Father would allow him to find mercy with Christ the Lord on the day of judgment.
  4. In contrast to the Calvinist and Photinian28 perversion of the Mosaic text in Genesis 19:24, we promote the clear distinction of the Lord the Son from the Lord the Father, the emphatic addition of the preposition, a comparison with other passages of Scripture, the Aramaic version, and the consensus of Christian interpreters. In Canon 16 of the Council of Sirmium, referred to by Socrates Scholasticus in Ecclesiastical History, Book 2, Chapter 30, an anathema is pronounced on Estius and everyone else who advocates this distortion of the text.29 Cf. On the Nature of God and on the Trinity, Commonplace III, § 155.30

Chrysostom and Theophylact note that the apostle prays for mercy for Onesiphorus on that day of judgment because many mercies will be needed even for all the saints, and no one will be saved except through mercy.31 Augustine writes in On Rebuke and Grace, Chapter 13, that mercy will be necessary on that day for the saints about to be crowned by God.32

Tertullian, in On the Resurrection of the Flesh, Chapter 23, explains that mercy in this way, that on the day of judgment all the elect will be freed from the misery of mortality and corruption through the blessed resurrection.33

The noun mercy is most simply taken as gracious beneficence, just as it is taken in many passages of Scripture. For eternal life is a χάρισμα τοῦ θεοῦ in Christ (Ro 6:23).

Estius suspects that, at the time when Paul wrote this, Onesiphorus “was already deceased by then,” for the following reasons:

  1. The apostle does not say, “The Lord grant mercy to Onesiphorus,” but, “to the household of Onesiphorus.”
  2. Paul says about Onesiphorus, “The Lord grant that he find mercy from the Lord on that day,” “namely desiring for him what Christians usually desire for the faithful departed – rest and mercy.” Estius later adds, “If the apostle prays this for Onesiphorus, that he would find mercy from the Lord, when his life is already completed, then prayer for the departed faithful is powerfully established from this passage.”
  3. “[A]t the end of the letter, he tells Timothy to greet the household of Onesiphorus, not Onesiphorus himself, as if he were now no longer alive.”34

We respond:

  1. Estius does not dare to affirm for certain that Onesiphorus was already deceased. “[I]t can probably be said…,” he says.35
  2. Earlier he writes, “As for Onesiphorus, it should be known that this good prayer of the apostle for him was not without effect. For, according to both Greek and Latin martyrologies, Onesiphorus was at last crowned with martyrdom in the Dardanelles for the sake of Christ’s name – assuming that he is the same man they are commemorating.”36
  3. We also pray the blessed requiem for the piously departed in our churches, but we do not ask for them to be liberated from purgatory. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession explains how such petitions are to be understood.37
  • Καὶ ὅσα ἐν Ἐφέσῳ διηκόνησεν βέλτιον σὺ γινώσκεις

Some explain ὅσα thus: quanta, i.e. quam multa, “how many things.” But this phrase is more properly explained this way: in quam multis rebus Ephesi ministraverit, “in how many affairs he ministered in Ephesus,” i.e. quam fuerit in ministerio officiosus, “how dutiful he was in the ministry.” This is also how the censor understands it in the addition to Estius.38

In some codices mihi, “to me,” is added, but that lacks the credibility of the most reliable Greek and Latin texts. This addition also fights against the context. For if Paul had added, “to me,” he would not tell Timothy, “as you well know.” For it is only reasonable that Paul himself would know the most about services rendered to himself. ✠


1 Most manuscripts read παραθήκην.

2 I.e., in a way that is clearly established or beyond dispute; cf. English apodictic.

3 I.e., in a way that is not demonstrative, but probable.

4 I.e., in a way based on theoretical deduction rather than empirical observation; could be rendered here, “before the fact.”

5 I.e., in a way based on reasoning from known facts or past events rather than by making assumptions or predictions; could be rendered here, “after the fact.”

6 Gerhard cites this eminent Roman Catholic theologian (1542-1613) throughout the commentary, usually to refute him. Here, however, he displays the charitable tact for which he was known by citing an interpretation with which he agrees.

7 Guilielmus Estius, In Omnes Pauli Epistolas, Item in Catholicas Commentarii, vol. 5 (Mainz: Kirchheim, Schott, & Theilmann, 1843), p. 279. Gerhard himself would have referred to the original Douai edition (1614-16).

8 The reference is to a story Clement of Alexandria told which Eusebius included in his Ecclesiastical History, Book III, Chapter 23. The apostle John allegedly entrusted a promising young boy to a bishop and left. The bishop looked after the boy, brought him up, educated him, and baptized him. After that the bishop lost track of him, and the boy fell in with some bad characters and became a violent, bloody, and cruel leader of a band of robbers. Eventually John returned and said, “Come, O bishop, restore to us the deposit which both I and Christ committed to you.” The bishop was initially confused, and wondered when John had deposited money with him, but it quickly became evident that “the deposit” John was seeking was the young man. Upon learning that the bishop had not kept the young man’s soul safe, John boldly sought him out and brought him to repentance.

9 In his Prolegomena, Gerhard divided 2 Timothy into three parts – preface, treatise proper, and conclusion. He wrote: “The actual treatise contains 1) an exhortation a) to patience and endurance under the cross (1:6-18), and b) to steadfastness in doctrine and faith (2:1-14)…” (pp. 1,2). He seems to be modifying that outline somewhat in his comments here.

10 A number of Vulgate manuscripts read informationem in 1 Timothy 1:16 instead of deformationem, the reading preferred by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft edition. Both essentially have the same meaning.

11a sketch or rough painting, such as to produce an effect at a distance, scene-painting, Plat.” (An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon [Oxford University Press, 1889], p. 733.2)

12 Estius, op. cit., p. 286.

13 Vulgate: superabundavit autem gratia Domini nostri cum fide et dilectione quae est in Christo Iesu.

14 See footnote 1.

15 Vulgate: O Timothee, depositum custodi vitans prophanas vocum novitates. This reading is based on the Greek variant καινοφωνίας, new talk, for κενοφωνίας, empty talk; cf. BDAG sub κενοφωνία.

16 Estius, op. cit., p. 287.

17 Johann Gerhard, On the Nature of Theology and Scripture, vol. 1 of Theological Commonplaces, 1st ed., trans. Richard J. Dinda (St. Louis: CPH, 2006), pp. 379,380.

18 Johann Gerhard, Confessionis Catholicae, in Qua Doctrina Catholica et Evangelica, quam Ecclesiae Augustanae Confessioni Addictae Profitentur, ex Romano-Catholicorum Scriptorum Suffragiis Confirmatur, book 1, Generalis (Jena: Ernest Steinmann, 1634), pp. 384,385.

19 Estius, op. cit., p. 287.

20 This label usually refers to John Chrysostom (347-407), Theodoret of Cyrrhus (c.393-c.458), and Theophylact of Ochrida (c.1050-c.1109); see footnote 21.

21 Homily 3 on 2 Timothy: “It is likely that there were many people in Rome at that time from the regions of Asia. ‘But no one came to help me,’ he says, ‘no one knew me; everyone alienated me’ ” (John Chrysostom, Patrologiae Graecae, vol. 62, S. P. N. Joannis Chrysostomi, Archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani, Opera Omnia Quae Exstant [Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1862], pp. 613,614).

Interpretation of 2 Timothy: “Rome was once the center of royal affairs. For that reason many people were traveling there, some for the sake of trade and others because of other needs. Therefore we may reasonably suppose that some of those who had come to faith in Asia went abroad [to Rome] during that time, but avoided the company of the apostle because they were afraid of Nero” (Theodoret, Patrologiae Graecae, vol. 82, Theodoreti Cyrensis Episcopi Opera Omnia [Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1864], pp. 837,838).

Commentary on 2 Timothy: “For, after he was arrested by Nero, all those in Asia abandoned him, that is, those from Asia who were present in Rome” (Theophylact, Patrologiae Graecae, vol. 125, Theophylacti, Bulgariae Archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani, Opera Quae Reperiri Potuerunt Omnia [Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1864], pp. 97,98).

22 Jena edition: “videntur enim subveriti, ne uni cum ipso periculo involverentur…” Leipzig edition: “videntur enim subveriti, ne una cum ipso periculo involverentur…” The translation follows the latter.

23 Tertullian, Patrologia Latina, vol. 2, Tertulliani Presbyteri Carthaginiensis Opera Omnia cum Selectis Praecedentium Editionum Lectionibus Variorumque Commentariis (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1844), p. 15.

24 Tertullian, op. cit., p. 198.

25 Most manuscripts read σπουδαίως; cf. BDAG sub σπουδαίως 2.

26 Either Gerhard is erroneously identifying Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, mentioned in Acts 28, with the writing of this letter, or he is assuming that, if Paul was allowed to live by himself the first time, he likely was allowed to do so the second time also.

27 Estius, op. cit., p. 289.

28 The Photinians were “the early modern Unitarians who are sometimes called ‘Socinians.’ Lutherans and others called these Unitarians ‘Photinians’ because they held beliefs similar to the ancient heresy of Photinus, who viewed Christ basically as a mere man and denied the personality of the Holy Spirit” (Johann Gerhard, On the Nature of God and on the Trinity, vol. 2 of Theological Commonplaces, trans. Richard J. Dinda [St. Louis: CPH, 2007], p. ix).

29 “If anyone does not understand, ‘The Lord rained from the Lord’ (Gen 19:24), as referring to the Father and the Son, but says that he has rained down from himself, let him be anathema. For the Lord the Son rained down from the Lord the Father” (Socrates, Patrologiae Graecae, vol. 67, Socratis Scholastici, Hermiae Sozomeni Historia Ecclesiastica [Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1864], pp. 283,284).

30 Gerhard, op. cit., pp. 404,405.

31 Homily 3 on 2 Timothy: “If Onesiphorus, who exposed himself to danger, is saved through mercy, how much more so we!” (John Chrysostom, op. cit., p. 615).

Commentary on 2 Timothy: “‘He had mercy on me,’ he says. ‘May he therefore receive his reward on that terrible day when there will be need of much mercy for all, even for the saints.’ If Onesiphorus, who exposes himself to danger for the sake of Christ, is saved through mercy, how much more so we!” (Theophylact, op. cit., pp. 99,100).

32 Patrologia Latina, vol. 44, Sancti Aurelii Augustini, Hipponensis Episcopi, Opera Omnia (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1865), p. 941.

33 Tertullian, op. cit., pp. 825-27.

34 Estius, op. cit., p. 291.

35 Estius, op. cit., p. 291.

36 Ibid., p. 291.

37 Article XXIV, § 89-99.

38 Estius, op. cit., pp. 291,292. At the conclusion of Estius’ commentary on 1:18, a section is appended, titled Additiuncula Censoris (“Little Additions by the Censor”).