2 Timothy 2:14 - “STRIVE NOT ABOUT WORDS to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.”
Some among the “No Bible in any language IS the inerrant words of God” crowd quote this verse and apply it in such a way as to teach that arguing, debating or disputing about the inerrancy of the Bible and other major doctrines of the faith are things that we Christians should not be doing.
It it pretty amazing how one can take a verse out of context and apply it in such a way as to deny scores of other verses that teach us we are to “earnestly contend for the faith.” (Jude 1:3)
The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, wrote numerous verses and even whole letters combating and refuting false doctrines. The whole letter to the Galatians was written to correct the false teaching that we are justified by the law instead of by the grace of Christ. So were large portions of the book of Romans.
He refuted false teachings and doctrines in the books of Colossians, and corrected wrong views of the coming of the Lord in First and Second Thessalonians.
Here are just a few of the many verses that show the importance of sound doctrine and how error should not be tolerated but refuted with “the form of sound words.” (2 Timothy 1:13).
When some Judaizers had “taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved” we read: “When therefore Paul and Barnabas had NO SMALL DISSENSION AND DISPUTATION WITH THEM…AND WHEN THERE HAD BEEN MUCH DISPUTING…” (Acts 15:2,7)
Again in Acts 17:16-17 we read: “Now while Paul waited for them in Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore DISPUTED he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.”
And in Acts 19:8-9 - “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, DISPUTING and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, DISPUTING DAILY in the school of one Tyrannus.”
“Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to EXHORT AND CONVINCE the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: WHOSE MOUTHS MUST BE STOPPED, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” (Titus 1:9-11)
“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” (1 Timothy 1:5-7)
“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: FROM SUCH WITHDRAW THYSELF." (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4)
So what exactly does the apostle mean when he says “STRIVE NOT ABOUT WORDS TO NO PROFIT”? Is he suddenly contradicting himself and retracting everything he said and did throughout his ministry?
Of course not. Sound doctrine is supremely important and errors and heresy are to be soundly refuted. We do not suddenly stop combating wrong teachings and erroneous views of Scripture just because somebody who doesn’t understand what a verse means rips it out of context and says “See, we are not supposed to strive about words, so stop all this arguing over doctrines and whether or not the Bible is inerrant.”
He tells Titus to stop the mouths of those who teach false doctrine “that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.” (Titus 1:13-14)
Throughout the books of First and Second Timothy, and Titus the apostle Paul exhorts young Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
It is in this context that he further tells Timothy “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they STRIVE NOT ABOUT WORDS TO NO PROFIT, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. BUT SHUN PROFANE AND VAIN BABBLING: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philters; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” (2 Timothy 2:14-18)
What I believe the apostle Paul is saying in the context is to teach sound doctrines about the grace of God in Christ Jesus; to hold fast the form of sound words and to rightly divide and teach “the word of truth”.
And once these sound doctrines are taught, do not allow the false teachers to continue to spread their false teachings that subvert and undermine these truths of God. We are to PURGE OURSELVES FROM THESE so that we may be a vessel unto honour, meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Timothy 2:21)
"A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition REJECT; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." (Titus 3:10-11)
See my article on this verse and how many modern versions have totally changed the meaning of this verse.
Titus 3:10 "Heretic" or "A Divisive Person"? Satan's Deception in the Modern Versions
“Now I beseech you, brethren, MARK THEM WHICH CAUSE DIVISIONS and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; AND AVOID THEM.” (Romans 16:17)
If the false teachers continue to “strive about words to no profit”, then we are to shut their mouths to stop them from teaching false doctrines; to withdraw ourselves from such and to avoid them.
“Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: FROM SUCH WITHDRAW THYSELF.” (1 Timothy 6:5)
It can even reach the point of delivering them over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
“Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck; Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (1 Timothy 1:19-20)
You cannot pull this one verse out of context - “strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers” - and make it contradict all the teachings we find in numerous other Scriptures.
2 Timothy 2:14 - "strive not about words" - cannot mean that we do not defend the faith, sound doctrines and the absolute truth of the inerrant words of God. Especially in a day like today when so many are denying the fundamental doctrines like the inerrancy of the Bible, the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the reality of the torments of hell, and that only Saviour from sin, death and damnation is through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The verse simply means that we should not continue to argue and dispute with the heretics, Judaizers and false teachers and allow them to subvert others in our assembly. Rather we are to stop their mouths, withdraw ourselves from them and avoid them.
The attack on the inerrancy of ANY Bible in ANY language is a fierce battle that has only increased in intensity, and the difference now is that the attack comes primarily from those within the professing church of Jesus Christ. We King James Bible believers did not start this fight.
Men who do NOT believe there is such a thing as a REAL inerrant Bible did it by criticizing the King James Bible. Men like Westcott and Hort, the RSV translation committee, James White, Dan Wallace, R.C. Sproul, James Price, (chief editor of the NKJV) and Edwin Palmer, the chief editor of the ever changing Vatican Version called the NIV.
For documented proof of these claims, see my article ironically titled “Why do you King James only people "Cause Divisions" and attack the word of God?”
“I have FOUGHT A GOOD FIGHT, I have finished my course, I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH” - the apostle Paul, 2 Timothy 4:7
All of grace, believing the inerrant words of God - the King James Holy Bible.
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