2 Timothy 1:13

Hold the pattern of sound words.

I. THIS INJUNCTION IMPLIES THAT THE DOCTRINES OF THE GOSPEL HAD BEEN ALREADY MOULDED INTO A CERTAIN SHAPE OR SYSTEM WHICH WAS EASILY GRASPED BY THE POPULAR MIND. As necessity arose, there was a restatement, in a new form, of the faith once professed so as to neutralize false theories. Thus the Apostle John recast the doctrine of Christ's manifestation in the world in his Epistles. There are other examples of such restatement. As errorists often seduce by an adroit use of words, it becomes necessary to have "a pattern of sound words," not merely as a witness for the truth, but as a protest against error. Timothy was in this case to adhere to the form of what he had heard from the apostle, and received with such "faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."


1. It was a centre of doctrinal unity to the Church.

2. It exhibited the truth in a consistent light to the world.

3. It afforded a rallying point in the conflict with systems of error.

4. It tended to spiritual stability. - T.C.

Hold fast the form of sound words.
While Paul was passing through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the Churches, he came to Lystra, where he found a certain disciple, named Timothy, who was highly esteemed by the Christian brethren in that city. This recommended him to the notice and acquaintance of the apostle; who being fully persuaded of his unfeigned piety and promising talents, determined to take him with him, and prepare him by proper instruction to preach the gospel. Timothy gratefully received and wisely improved this precious privilege, made great proficiency in theological knowledge, and soon became acquainted with the whole scheme of religious sentiments which the apostle embraced and taught. This form of sound words, or rather this system of sound doctrines, the apostle taught Timothy, and exhorted him to hold fast as a necessary and indispensable qualification for the gospel ministry. The opinion and practice of the apostle in this instance naturally leads us to conclude that a systematical knowledge of the gospel is still necessary to qualify other pious young men as well as Timothy for the same sacred office.

1. Young men who are preparing for the ministry should understand the harmony and connection which run through all the peculiar and essential doctrines of the gospel. These are so intimately connected that they cannot be clearly understood separately considered.

2. A systematical knowledge of the principal doctrines of the Bible is necessary in order to understand and explain the true meaning of the Scriptures in general.

3. Young men who are preparing for the ministry should have a systematical knowledge of the gospel, that they may be able to guard themselves against the religious errors to which they are peculiarly exposed.

4. It is necessary that those who are preparing for the ministry should have a systematical knowledge of the gospel in order to be able to refute as well as to avoid religious errors.

5. A systematical knowledge of the gospel is no less necessary in order to qualify pious young men to preach both the doctrines and duties of Christianity in the most plain, instructive, and profitable manner.It now remains to point out some things which seem naturally to flow from the subject.

1. The first thing suggested by the subject is that there can be no reasonable objection against all human systems of divinity. It is said that systems of divinity tend to promote religious controversies, which are highly prejudicial to practical religion. But it is very evident that they do not give rise to religious disputes, because religious disputes have always given rise to them. It is said that systems of divinity tend to prevent men from forming any real opinions of their own and to infringe upon their right of private judgment. No man can be said to have a real opinion upon any subject which is not derived from evidence; and if it be derived from evidence, it is totally immaterial whether he derives the evidence from his own investigation, or from conversation, or from reading, or from public or private instruction. It is said that systems of divinity are often the engines of designing men, and intended to propagate error instead of truth. It is not denied that theological systems may have been designed and employed to serve such an evil purpose. But it must be acknowledged, on the other hand, that they may have been designed and employed to counteract the baneful influence of error and to promote the cause of truth.

2. If the leading sentiment in this discourse has been sufficiently supported, we must conclude that it is generally improper for those to undertake to preach the gospel who have never acquired a systematical knowledge of it. In the next place, it appears from what has been said, that both an academical and theological education is highly necessary to qualify pious young men for the work of the ministry.

3. The whole train of the observations which have been made in this discourse now converge to a single point, and unitedly press the important duty of assisting pious and promising youths to furnish their minds with that literary and theological knowledge which is indispensably necessary to prepare them for the gospel ministry.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

The numerous and conflicting creeds, confessions of faith, and systems of divinity which are spread over the religious world are but of human authority. What volumes of needless controversy, what angry passions, what words of strife, and what deeds of violence had the world escaped by attention to this simple, obvious, all-important principle! But does it follow from this statement that we ought to have no system of religious opinions whatever; or that, having a system, it is a matter of indifference what that system is? By no means. We are not indeed to assume infallibility, either for ourselves or for the peculiarities of our creed; but it does not follow we should have no fixed creed at all. He who has no creed has nothing which he believes; and he who has nothing which he believes is an unbeliever, an infidel. The evil lies not in having a creed, but in having a wrong one; or in holding and propagating that which we have with tempers that are unkind and by measures that are unchristian. What we design at this time is a brief and plain summary of those religious principles avowed by the community of professing Christians with which we are more especially connected. If, on examination, the form of words we lay before you should be proved "sound," we may be allowed to admonish you in the words of the apostle to "hold it fast."

1. There exists an Infinite Being, the great first cause, whom we call God. There is but one God; but this one God subsists in three personalities or modes, commonly distinguished as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

2. The Holy Scriptures are the only sufficient and authorised rule of faith and practice. It is not intended to be affirmed that nothing is true but what is made known in the sacred writings; but that what is not there revealed cannot be required as an article of faith.

3. Man came out of the bands of his Creator in a state of perfect rectitude, holiness, and felicity. But man was at the same time constituted a moral agent; that is, he was put under a command or law which he had the power and liberty to obey or disobey. He disobeyed; and in consequence of that act of infidelity and rebellion fell from his primeval excellency; his nature became morally defiled; and that moral defilement he transmitted to all his posterity.

4. But mankind were not left to perish in this fallen, sinful, and wretched state: a great plan of redemption and salvation has been originated, and is now in actual existence and operation. This plan took its rise in the boundless benevolence of the eternal Jehovah; and the execution of it was laid on one that is mighty — on our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

5. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind and the founder of our holy religion, is very God. Rut for us men and for our salvation the eternal Word became flesh and dwelt among us, so that the Saviour of the world is Man as well as God, or, in the style of the Scriptures, "God manifest in the flesh."

6. The sufferings and death of the man Christ Jesus are a proper and full satisfaction and atonement for the sins of mankind.

7. In that form of words which this Christian community has embraced, it is essential, not only that the blessed Jesus died for sin, but also that He died for the sins of all men; that in the design and appointment of Almighty God, the blood of the covenant extends its saving efficacy wide as the human race; and that, in consequence of the shedding of that blood, salvation is actually put within the grasp of every human soul.

8. We are justified before God and accepted into His favour, not by works of righteousness that we have done, but through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and through that alone.

9. It is the privilege of all who are thus accepted of God to have the assurance of it by the witness of the Spirit in their hearts.

10. As the nature of man is corrupt and sinful, before he can be admitted into the everlasting abodes of purity and bliss, he must undergo a great moral change — A change of disposition and desires — A change of heart and soul. This spiritual, happy revolution we are accustomed to express by such terms as "regeneration," "conversion," "the new birth," etc.

11. This regeneration and whatever else is necessary to the holiness and spiritual life of the soul is effected through the interposition and agency of the Holy Spirit.

12. The soul of man is immortal.

13. Perhaps no discovery of revelation is more stupendous or more consolatory than the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.

14. "God hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead."

15. Finally, the solemnities of that great and final day of God will issue in the eternal blessedness and glory of the righteous, and in the endless punishment and misery of the wicked. Having thus submitted to you "the form," the plan, draught, or outline, as the word signifies, of what we consider "sound words," we solemnly request that it may be examined by that only proper test of religious truth, the Word of God. If it accord not with that standard, reject it; but if it do, then attend to the admonition in our text, and "hold fast the form of sound words."In the meantime, on this general admonition of the apostle, we may venture to establish the following exhortations.

1. Beware and do not exchange "the form of sound words" for the uncertainties and delusions of infidelity.

2. Beware of error in your religious doctrines. The mode of faith, the class of doctrines we espouse, cannot be a matter of indifference; for, as truth exerts an influence holy and happy, so the tendency of error is impure and destructive.

3. Finally, beware of holding "the truth in unrighteousness." Truth itself is of no value only as it influences to an upright, holy, and benevolent practice.

(J. Bromley.)

In these words there is —

1. The character of Scripture-doctrine; it is sound words — sound and pure in itself, and sound in its effect, being of a soul-healing virtue (Ezekiel 47:9).

2. The sum of it, faith, showing what we are to believe; and love, what we are to do (1 John 5:8; John 14:15). This love has a particular relation to Christ, all our obedience being to be offered unto God through Him, as our faith fixes on God through Him. This was what the apostle preached.

3. Our duty with respect to it; to hold fast the form of sound words. This signifies —(1) To have a pattern of the doctrine in our minds, to which all that ministers teach must be conformable.(2) To hold it fast; to cleave to, and keep hold of it, without flinching from it, whatever dangers or difficulties may attend the doing so. Both these senses are implied in the words.


1. As to faith. Divine faith is a believing of what God has revealed, because God has said it, or revealed it. People may believe Scripture-truths, but not with a Divine faith, unless they believe it on that very ground, the authority of God speaking in His Word. And this Divine faith is the product of the Spirit of God in the heart of a sinner, implanting the habit or principle of faith there, and exciting it to a hearty reception and firm belief of whatever God reveals in His Word. Hence we may infer —(1) That there can be no right knowledge of God acquired in an ordinary way without the Scriptures (Matthew 22:29).(2) That where the Scriptures are not known, there can be no saving faith.(3) That there is nothing we are bound to believe as a part of faith but what the Scripture teaches, be who they will that propose it, and whatever they may pretend for their warrant.

2. As to obedience, it is that duty which God requires of man. It is that duty and obedience which man owes to God, to His will and laws, in respect of God's universal supremacy and sovereign authority over man; and which he should render to Him out of love and gratitude.(1) That there can be no sufficient knowledge of the duty which we owe to God without the Scriptures.(2) That there can be no right obedience yielded to God without them.(3) That there is no point of duty that we are called to, but what the Scripture teaches (Isaiah 8:20). As to the connection of these two, faith and obedience are joined together, because there is no true faith but what is followed with obedience, and no true obedience but what flows from faith. Faith is the loadstone of obedience, and obedience the touchstone of faith, as appears from James 2.


1. The Scripture teaches some things expressly in so many words; as, "Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," etc.

2. The Scriptures teach but externally. It is the Spirit that teaches internally.

III. I come now to consider THE SENSE OF THE SCRIPTURE. The sense of the Scripture is but one, and not manifold.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

I. LET US CONSIDER THE OBJECT OF TENACIOUS PRESERVATION: "the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me." What is this form of sound words?

1. I should answer explicitly, and without hesitation, in the first place, the whole of God's inspired truth, contained in the writing of the Old and the New Testament. In the Scriptures are contained all things necessary to be known and practised; and, therefore, this Book must be held with a firm and a tenacious grasp.

2. By "the form of sound words," in the next place, it is not at all unreasonable to suppose that the apostle might intend a certain formulary, or system of Divine truth, which he might have given to Timothy, his "son in the faith," and a younger teacher in the Church.I say some formulary, or system of Divine truth, in which the great principles of the gospel might be condensed and epitomised. We have warrant in Scripture for such formularies, both in the Old Testament and in the New; and though, indeed, as composed by mere human minds, they are not the object of a Divine faith, any farther than they are found in strict coincidence with the Holy Scriptures; yet they are, nevertheless, profitable and desirable.

1. In the first place, it is of great advantage to have a concise, harmonious, connected view of the truth as it stands revealed in Holy Scripture.

2. In the next place, order is known to be a powerful assistant of the memory.

3. In the third place, it is well to have a summary of Christian truth, in order that our testimony among our fellow creatures may be clearly understood and explicitly declared.

4. And finally, that those who are enemies either to the truth or the practice of Christianity, may have that which can be lifted up as a standard against them, so that they cannot mutilate, corrupt, or destroy, "the truth as it is in Jesus." It cannot be doubted but that these systems and formularies of Divine truth, rightly exhibited, and sustained by Holy Scripture, have proved in every age a mighty bulwark to the faith of the Christian Church.

II. THE DUTY WHICH THE CHRISTIAN OWES TO THE OBJECT WHICH WE HAVE CONSIDERED: to hold it fast with a firm and with a determinate grasp. And this implies the following things —

1. An accurate acquaintance with the truth which they embody and exhibit. The understanding must be employed in ascertaining the sense and meaning of Holy Scripture, in comparing evidence, in deducing just conclusions from authentic premises, in tracing the harmony, the connection, and the bearing of one truth upon another, so that the various links of the chain may be held in their unbroken connection.

2. There must be a full persuasion of the truth.

3. Finally, there should be a conscientious determination to preserve the truth of the gospel at all hazards, and whatever consequences may possibly ensue with respect to ourselves, or our worldly interests.

III. THE MANNER AND THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THE TENACITY OF THE TRUTH IS TO BE ATTEMPTED. It is added, "in faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus." For there is always some danger lest human passion and infirmity should mix themselves even with our conscientious regard to the truth of God. We have to guard against the wrath of the angry polemic; the bitterness of the prejudiced bigot; visionary and fanatic wildness of the enthusiast.

1. First, we are to hold fast the truth in faith, because faith is the only ground upon which we receive and retain the truth. We do not receive it by tradition from our fellow-men; we do not receive it upon the authority or credit of any merely human teacher, however much that teacher may be valued by us; but we receive it on the ground of God's authority. He has revealed it. We find it in His Book; a book of which the evidences fully substantiate the Divine original. Then we have a witness which is more valuable, in point of fact, than ten thousand theories, or ten thousand merely speculative arguments. This is the inward evidence which every real Christian derives from his own state of mind, his feeling, his character, his conduct; and by which he is able to demonstrate the truth of the blessed gospel. Then we are to maintain the truth in love — "love which is in Christ Jesus." I must show this determined and this courageous attachment to the truth, first, for the love of Jesus Christ, who came into the world both to reveal and to confirm it. I must maintain it from love to my own soul. Love to the souls of others should impel me to this courageous maintenance of the truth of the gospel. Could we conceive of a readier method of destroying the entire population of a city than by poisoning the aqueduct, or the fountain, from which they were supplied with their daily drink? What should we think of the guilt of that man who would knowingly drop poison into a living spring, that all who went to quench their thirst, instead of meeting with refreshment and health, should meet with their bane and their destruction? And I never can suppose that man to be under the influence of a candid, generous, and benevolent spirit, who sacrifices the truth, and fails to maintain that which is of infinite importance to God's honour, to the salvation of the soul, and to the existence of Christ's kingdom amongst men, based, as they are, upon the everlasting and immutable truth of the gospel.

(G. Clayton, M. A.)

I do not suppose that by this it is intended that Paul ever wrote out for Timothy a list of doctrines; or that be gave him a small abstract of Divinity, to which he desired him to subscribe his name, as the articles of the Church over which he was made a pastor. If so, doubtless that document would have been preserved anti enrolled in the canons of Scripture as one of the writings of an inspired man. I can scarce think such a creed would have been lost, whilst other creeds have been preserved and handed down to us. I conceive that what the apostle meant was this: — "Timothy, when I have preached to you, you have heard certain grand outlines of truth; you have heard from me the great system of faith in Jesus Christ; in my writings and public speakings you have heard me continually insist upon a certain pattern or form of faith; now, I bid you, my dearly beloved son in the gospel, Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."

I. What is a "FORM OF SOUND WORDS"? Ten thousand persons will quarrel upon this. One will say, "my creed is a form of sound words"; another will declare that his creed also is sound, if not infallible.

1. We will not, therefore, enter into all the minutiae which distinguish creeds from each other, but just simply say, that no system can be a form of sound words unless it is perfectly Scriptural.

2. But since it is said that texts may be found to prove almost everything, we must remark that a form of sound words must be one that exalts God and puts down man.

3. We think, also, that we may judge of the soundness of doctrine by its tendency. We can never think a doctrine sound, when we see plainly upon its very surface that it has a tendency to create sin in men.

4. We shall, perhaps, be asked, what we do regard as a form of sound words, and what those doctrines are which are Scriptural, which at the same time are healthful to the spirit and exalting to God. We answer, we believe that a form of sound words must embrace, first of all, the doctrine of God's being and nature, we must have the trinity in unity, and the unity in trinity.

5. Now, we hold, that a form of sound words must look upon man aright as well as upon God aright; it must teach that man is utterly fallen, that he is sinful, and for his sin condemned and in himself altogether hopeless of salvation.

6. And next, we think that a doctrine that is sound must have right views of salvation, as being of the Lord alone,


1. First, for your own sake, hold it fast, for thereby you will receive ten thousand blessings; you will receive the blessing of peace in your conscience.

2. "Hold fast the form of sound words," because it will tend very much to your growth. He who holds fast the truth will grow faster than he who is continually shifting from doctrine to doctrine.

3. I would beseech you to hold it fast for your own sakes, from a remembrance of the great evils which will follow the contrary course. If you do not "hold fast the form of sound words," listen to me while I tell you what you will do. In the first place, every deviation from truth is a sin. It is not simply a sin for me to do a wrong act, but it is a sin for me to believe a wrong doctrine. If it be a sin of ignorance, it is nevertheless a sin; but it is not so heinous as a sin of negligence, which I fear it is with many.

4. "Hold fast the form of sound words," because error in doctrine almost inevitably leads to error in practice. When a man believes wrongly, he will soon act wrongly.

5. And now, for the good of the Church itself, I want you all to "hold fast the form of sound words." Would you wish to see the Church prosperous? Would you wish to see it peaceful? Then "hold fast the form of sound words." What is the cause of divisions, schisms, quarrels, and bickerings amongst us? It is not the fault of the truth; it is the fault of the errors. There would have been peace in the Church, entire and perpetual peace, if there had been purity — entire and perpetual purity — in the Church. Going down to Sheerness on Friday, I was told by some one on board that during the late gale several of the ships there had their anchors rent up, and had gone dashing against the other ships, and had done considerable damage. Now, if their anchors had held fast and firm, no damage would have been done. Ask me the cause of the damage which has been done to our Churches by the different denominations, and I tell you, it is because all their anchors did not hold fast.

6. Keep to your faith, I say again, for the Church's cake, for so you will promote strength in the Church. I saw lying between Chatham and Sheerness a number of ships that I supposed to be old hulks; and I thought how stupid Government was to let them remain there, and not chop them up for firewood, or something else; but some one said to me, those ships can soon be fitted for service; they look old now, but they only want a little paint, and when the Admiralty requires them, they will be commissioned and made fit for use. So we have heard some people say, "There are those old doctrines — what good are they?" Wait; there is not a doctrine in God's Bible that has not its use. Those ships that you may think are not wanted, will be useful by-and-bye. So it is with the doctrines of the Bible. Do not say, "Break up those old doctrines, you can do without them." Nay, we want them, and we must have them.

7. "Well," says one, "I think we ought to hold the truth firmly; but I do not see the necessity for holding the form of it; I think we might cut and trim a little, and then our doctrines would be received better."

8. Again, I say, "hold fast the form of sound words," for the world's sake. Pardon me when I say that, speaking after the manner of men, I believe that the progress of the gospel has been awfully impeded by the errors of its preachers. I never wonder when I see a Jew an un-believer in Christianity, for this reason, that the Jews very seldom see Christianity in its beauty. For hundreds of years what has the Jew thought Christianity to be? Why, pure idolatry. He has seen the Catholic bow down to blocks of. wood and stone; he has seen him prostrating himself before the Virgin Mary and all saints; and the Jew has said, "Ah I this is my watchword — Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord; I could not be a Christian, for to worship one God is the essential part of my religion." So the heathen, I believe, have seen a false system of Christianity, and they have said, "What! is that your Christianity?" and they did not receive it.

III. And now, LET ME WARN YOU OF TWO DANGERS. One is, that you will be very much tempted to give up the form of sound words that you hold, on account of the opposition you will meet with. But the greatest obstacle you will have is a sort of slight and cunning, trying to pervert you to the belief that your doctrine is the same with one which is just the very opposite.


1. If I might be allowed to mention one or two before coming to those in the text, I should say, in the first place, if you want to hold fast the truth, seek to get an understanding of it. A man cannot hold a thing fast unless he has a good understanding of it. I never want you to have the faith of the collier who was asked what he believed; he said he believed what the Church believed. "Well, but what does the Church believe?" He said the Church believed what he believed, and he believed what the Church believed; and so it went all the way round." Let me exhort you, parents, as much as lieth in you, to give your children sound instruction in the great doctrines of the gospel of Christ. I believe that what Irving once said is a great truth. He said, "In these modern times you boast and glory, and you think yourselves to be in a high and noble condition, because you have your Sabbath-schools and your British schools, and all kinds of schools for teaching youth. I tell you," he said, "that philanthropic and great as these are, they are the ensigns of your disgrace; they show that your land is not a land where parents teach their children at home. They show you there is a want of parental instruction; and though they be blessed things, these Sabbath-schools, they are indications of something wrong, for if we all taught our children there would be no need of strangers to say to our children, 'Know the Lord.'" I trust you will never give up that excellent puritanical habit of catechising your children at home. Any father or mother who entirely gives up a child to the teaching of another has made a mistake.

2. But then, Christian men, above all things, if you hold fast the truth, pray yourselves right into it. An old divine says, "I have lost many things I learned in the house of God, but I never lost anything I ever learned in the closet." That which a man learns on his knees, with his Bible open, he will never forget.

3. But the two great holdfasts are here given — faith and love. If ye would hold the truth fast, put your faith in Jesus Christ, and have an ardent love towards Him. Believe the truth. Do not pretend to believe it, but believe it thoroughly. And then the second holdfast is love. Love Christ, and love Christ's truth because it is Christ's truth, for Christ's sake, and if you love the truth you will not let it go. It is very hard to turn a man away from the truth he loves.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. OF THE SYSTEM OF DIVINE TRUTH WHICH TIMOTHY WAS, and, consequently, all faithful ministers of the gospel are, to "hold fast," we remark, in the first place, that it is called a form. The great truths of revelation are scattered over the whole of the oracles of God; and in order to present those truths in a comprehensive manner to the bulk of mankind, who have neither time nor inclination to seek them out themselves, the Church has, in all ages, retained a summary of Christian doctrine like that which we call the Apostles' Creed. The apostles themselves knew well, that if they had left the doctrines of Christianity unguarded, or had depended on oral traditions to convey those doctrines uncorrupted to future generations, the Word of God would have been lost in an ungodly world, as was well-nigh the case with the Jews, who had made the Word of God void by their traditions. As it is, the truths of the gospel have had (if we may so speak) a narrow escape from the polluting hands of men. If our Reformers had not rescued the "form of sound words" from the errors of ten preceding centuries, we should not now be exhorting you, with St. Paul, to "hold fast the form of sound words which you have heard of us in faith and love." But whilst we see in the writings of St. Paul an authority for forms, we are far from attaching, any importance to a form as such. To recommend itself to the heart and conscience of a believer, it must not be a mere form of words, but it must be a "form of sound words" — "sound speech that cannot be condemned." In different places, and at different times, forms have been obtruded on the Church, framed according to man's device, and some peculiar interpretations of God's truth. But for a form to be worthy of being called "sound," it must be of sound words. We set up no standard of truth but the pure Word of God; but we do think that a form of doctrine taken from that Word is the readiest mode of preserving the faith; and the best and most precious legacy we can leave to our children is that sound form of words, in which we have been instructed — that sound form of worship, which, after all, is the glory of our land, and a powerful means of upholding Christianity amongst us.

II. ON WHAT PRINCIPLE, AND IN WHAT SPIRIT OUR ADHERENCE TO OUR FORMS IS TO BE MAINTAINED. Timothy was to "hold fast the form of sound words" heard of Paul, on the principle of faith, and in the spirit of love, "that is in Christ Jesus." The strongest objection we have ever heard against forms, even admitting them to be of "sound words," is, that they are liable to impart a false security to the worship. per, and to become lifeless to the greater number of those who profess adherence to them. We cannot deny but that there is a danger here: we must admit, that the very best system which could ever be devised for maintaining God's truth will be sure to have something in it to object to. But this is not owing to the form: we are always too ready to find the blame that belongs to us in anything but our own hearts. A man who holds fast a form, merely because it is respectable, and that other persons may be assured of his orthodoxy, does not hold fast the form on a right principle. He should hold it in faith. It should be something that has life, and not a mere body without a form. Unless we get to that which is within the ark, it matters but little to look at the bending cherubim. Unless our faith is exercised upon the object of all our hope, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ, our forms will but serve to condemn us. But, lastly, we speak of the spirit in which we should adhere to our forms. They are not to be held fast in the spirit of bigotry and exclusion. This is not the spirit in which St. Paul taught Timothy to "hold fast the form of sound words": he was to maintain his principles and his system of doctrine "in love"; in love no doubt to his Saviour who had loved him to the death, but of charity towards all those who might differ from him on certain points.

(R. Burgess, B. D.)

The Book of Common Prayer, which has guided the devotions of so many millions, in all lands, to-day, and which has been the comfort of a great multitude which no man can number, in ages past, has been welt described as "The Sanctuary of our Faith and our Language." Its words are familiar in every ear, and its ancient forms hallow our daily life. The Prayer-book speaks to us most tenderly of birth, baptism, marriage, and death. Forms of prayer and praise were used in the Jewish Church, by God's own appointment, and liturgies have given shape and permanence to the worship of the Christian Church since apostolic times. Our own Prayer-book is especially rich in its ancient treasures, from the fact that it embraces the choicest selections from those heirlooms of the past. It was not the work of a day, nor of a generation, but the legacy of saints and martyrs and confessors; and the words now uttered by God's children in this distant age were once spoken by those who faced the rack and the devouring flames, and whose only abiding-places were the dens and caves of the earth. The Communion Service, by itself, is a compact and complete summary of the Christian's belief, and a powerful and persuasive sermon enforcing holiness of life. In our every-day, struggling, checkered existence, the Prayer-book bears an important part. When Archbishop Cranmer had resumed his manly courage, and was ready to seal with his blood his faithfulness to the truth of God, he reverently began his dying testimony by reciting the Apostles' Creed. John Rogers, as he was led in handcuffs through weeping crowds, to be burned at the stake, chanted, with loud and unfaltering voice, the thrilling words of the Miserere. The gentle and gifted Lady Jane Gray nerved herself to lay her head upon the fatal block by reciting the same sweet words, exchanging, in a moment, the earthly crown, with its thorns and trials, for an immortal diadem of glory. St. and St. rise up before us when the grand Te Deum recalls the memorable baptism at Milan. Recent as are the historical records of the Church in this Western world, they are by no means lacking in interest and significance. On the sultry August day in 1583, when Sir Humphrey Gilbert landed on the craggy shores of Newfoundland, to take possession of the continent for England's queen, the Cross of Christ was set up, and the solemn offices of the were duly celebrated. Well may we rejoice that this Book of Common Prayer, so powerful for good, has been preserved, by God's kind providence, as the heritage of His people! The morning sun, as he rises successively on the nations of the earth, is ever followed by these prayers and praises of martyred saints, and he sinks, at close of day, behind no mountain nor plain nor ocean wave where these holy offices are not heard. After even so brief a summary of what might be said concerning this, the only meet companion volume for the Holy Bible, does not every one among us feel disposed to yield cheerful obedience to the apostle's direction concerning the preservation of the casket of sacred truth, "Hold fast the form of sound words"? The dying Hammond, amidst the most excruciating pains, stopped his friends, who were praying for him in irregular and unpremeditated words, saying, "Let us call on God in the voice of His Church!" When the saintly George Herbert was asked what prayers should be offered in his death-chamber, he answered, With warmth, "The prayers of my mother, the Church of England; there are no prayers like them!" Hannah Moore records her testimony that "never, in the most rapturous moments of the saintliest minds, have they failed to find in the Prayer-book their most soaring and sustaining wings." The most devoted Churchman is not disposed to place the Prayer-book above the Bible, but, like the moon in the heavens, it is only a satellite of the Church, borrowing all its light from Christ, the Sun of Righteousness.


The words which I have chosen for the text intimate to us the great importance of the words by which our religious ideas are expressed. The Scriptures, indeed, as indited by the Spirit of God, contain words, of all others, the soundest and the best, by which to express such truths as are necessary for mankind to believe or know. The great God being the author, He has, without doubt, expressed everything there, in a manner of all others the most fit and proper. Nothing else would be consistent with infinite wisdom and goodness, and whatever words we employ, are either true or false, sound or corrupt, as they agree or disagree with the words of the Scriptures. But still there never has been any error, or heresy, or schism in the Church, but its authors have pretended to ground it on the Scriptures. In this all heretics, Greek and Latin, old and new, agree. They all plead Scripture for what they say, and each one pretends that his opinion, be it never so absurd and ridiculous, is in accordance with the words there used. This at first may seem strange, but on further reflection it is not to be so much wondered at; it arises partly from the Scriptures being written in different languages to those with which most men are familiar; so that, if in the translation (admirable as that translation on the whole is) there be any word that seems to favour an erroneous opinion to which men may be inclined, it is too readily concluded that the Scriptures favour it. This arises partly again from the circumstance, that though others are acquainted with the original languages in which the Scriptures are written, they yet are not so fully acquainted with them as to clearly understand the full meaning of every expression. Then again, the rites and customs of countries far distant, and ages far remote, were so different to our own, that they occasion difficulties and obscurities. A large part of the Bible is also written in the highest poetical language, and abounds with metaphors and figures. All classes of individuals have therefore been agreed on the desirableness of some form of sound words, based on the Scriptures. Every one of the foreign churches, I believe, possesses such a form of its own; and those who in our own country left our own Church, also had such a form drawn up for themselves by the assembly of divines at Westminster, and still employ it as their catechism. There is, therefore, no difference of opinion as to the propriety of this — the necessities of the Church have established the approval of it. There are three especial excellencies in the articles, which deserve to be noticed, and which, perhaps, render them pre-eminent among all formularies of faith which have yet been drawn up. They are most eminently evangelical, moderate, and protestant. Evangelical in doctrine, moderate in discipline, and protestant in ceremonials.

(J. Garwood, M. A.)

"Hold fast" — Greek, Αχε. The word hath a double signification, namely, "to have," and "to hold," and both of these the apostle commends to Timothy, namely —

1. To have such a form or collection of gospel-doctrines, as a type or exemplar to which he should conform in his ministry.

2. To hold it, that is, to "hold it fast," not to swerve from it in the course of his ministry, but pertinaciously to adhere to it, not to suffer it to be corrupted by men of erroneous principles, nor to part with it upon any terms in the world, but to stand by it, and own it, against all opposition and persecution whatsoever. Doctrine

I. METHODICAL SYSTEMS OF THE MAIN AND SPECIAL POINTS OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION ARE VERY USEFUL AND PROFITABLE BOTH FOR MINISTERS AND PEOPLE. In the managing of the doctrinal part of this observation, I shall only give you two demonstrations:

1. Scripture-pattern;

2. The usefulness of such modules.

Scripture-pattern. The whole Scripture is a large module of saving truth. The Word of God is full of such maps and modules of Divine truths necessary to salvation. The whole gospel, in general, is nothing but the great platform or standard of saving doctrine. But now, more particularly, we may observe that, beside this great universal map or synopsis of Divine truth, there are to be found in Scripture more compendious abstracts containing certain of the main heads and points of saving doctrine, methodised into lesser bodies and tables, for the help of our faith and knowledge; and we find them accommodated, by the penmen of the Holy Ghost, to two special ends and purposes.

1. To inform the Church in the principles of religion. The Ten Commandments, a brief abstract of the whole law. Three modules delivered by Christ in His first sermon. The first module contains the beautitudes; a list of particulars wherein man's true and chiefest happiness doth consist (Matthew 5:3-11). The second module contains a list of duties; things to be done by every one that would be saved. This our Saviour doth by asserting and expounding the moral law (Matthew 5:17-48), confuting and reforming the false glosses which the scribes and Pharisees had put upon the Ten Commandments, thereby "making the law of God of none effect." (Matthew 15:6). And these we may call the facienda, "things to be done." The third module contains a list of petitions, which (Matthew 6:9-15) He commends to His disciples, and in them to all succeeding generations of the Church, as a form or directory of prayer. The holy apostles tread in our Saviour's steps. You may observe in all their epistles, that in the former part of them they generally lay down a module of gospel-principles, and in the latter part a module of gospel-duties.

2. A second sort of modules, or a second end and design of such modules, is to obviate errors, and to antidote Christians against the poison and infection of rotten, pernicious principles: for no sooner had the good husbandman sowed his field with good seed, but the envious man went out after him, and began to scatter tares (Matthew 13:25). In opposition whereunto, the apostles in their several epistles were careful to furnish the Churches with such modules and platforms of truth as might discover and confute those "damnable heresies" (2 Peter 2:1).

The advantages of such modules. Advantage

1. For the ornament of the truth. Whether it be delivered from the pulpit or from the press, in such systems and platforms the hearer or reader may, as in a map or table (sometimes of one sort, sometimes of another) behold Divine truths standing one by another in their method and connection, mutually casting light and lustre upon each other.

2. Such types and exemplars of Divine truths are of great help to the understanding. As the collection of many beams and luminaries makes the greater light, so it is in the judgment, a constellation of gospel-principles shining together into the understanding, fills it with distinct and excellent knowledge.

3. Such patterns and platforms, whether of larger or of lesser compass, are a great help to memory. In all arts and sciences, order and method is of singular advantage unto memory. We do easily retain things in our mind, when we have once digested them into order.

4. Such modules serve to quicken affection. Sympathy and harmony have a notable influence upon the affections.

5. It is a marvellous antidote against error and seduction. Gospel-truths in their series and dependence are a chain of gold to tie the truth and the soul close together.

6. Growth in grace is one blessed fruit of such systems and tables of Divine truths. When foundations are well laid, the superstructures are prosperously carried on.Uses.

1. In the first place, it serves to justify the practice of the Churches of Jesus Christ, which have their public forms and tables of the fundamental articles of the Christian faith drawn up by the joint labour and travail of their learned and godly divines, after much and solemn seeking of God by fasting and prayer; in the solemn profession whereof they all consent and agree.

2. It serves to show us the benefit and advantage of public catechisms.

3. Hence also I might commend to young students in divinity the reading of systems and compendious abstracts and abridgments.

4. It serves to commend methodical preaching.

5. It commends (not least) constant and fixed hearing. Especially when people sit under a judicious and methodical ministry. "Loose hearing may please, but the fixed will profit,"; skipping hearing, for the most part, makes but sceptical Christians.

6. From hence give me leave to commend to you the benefit and advantage of "the morning exercise."

(T. Case, M. A.)

There is a fourfold keeping of this pattern, and all here meant. The first, in memory, not forgetting. Secondly, in faith, not doubting. Thirdly, in affection, not hating. Fourthly, in practice, not disobeying. And there can be none of the four without the first. Some read have; others, hold the pattern: all one in effect.

(J. Barlow, D. D.)

It is by some termed the true pattern, or perfect pattern, or form. It seems to be a word borrowed from a painter, who first draws but after a pattern, or from a carpenter that works by rule.

(J. Barlow, D. D.)

A thing may be said to be wholesome or sound four ways. First, when it's sound in itself. Secondly, when it works soundness in another thing; or thirdly, preserves it being wrought; and fourthly, when it is a sign of soundness (John 3:12). And all these be in the words of this pattern.

(J. Barlow, D. D.)

For if the words be not sound, the pattern cannot but be unsound. When poison is mixed with good meats and wines it spoils all; so when the words be not wholesome, the pattern and form of doctrine is defective. One rotten post maketh a weak building. We must be transformed into the doctrine; and as the spirit in the meat we eat is turned into ours, so must the word we read or hear be converted into us (Romans 6:17). And if our spiritual food be not wholesome, our souls will grow sick and die.

(J. Barlow, D. D.)

This sentence I met with in one of those marvellous letters which Samuel Rutherford left as a priceless legacy to the Church of God in all ages. Truly he hath dust of gold. I thought it would make a capital text for a prayer-meeting address, and so I jotted it down. It gripped me, and so I gripped it, in the hope that it might grip you, and lead you "to fasten your grips." But do not imagine that I have taken a text from Rutherford because I could not find one in the Bible, for there are many passages of Scripture which teach the same lesson. As for instance, that exhortation, "Lay hold on eternal life," or that other, "Hold fast that thou hast," or that other, "Hold fast the form of sound words." The things of God are not to be trifled with, "lest at any time we let them slip." They are to be grasped, as Jacob seized the angel, with "I will not let thee go." Faith is first the eye of the soul wherewith it sees the invisible things of God, and then it becomes the hand of the soul, with which it gets a grip of the substance of "the things not seen as yet." A man has two hands, and I would urge you to take a double hold upon those things which Satan will try to steal from you. Take hold of them as the limpet takes hold upon the rock, or as the magnet takes hold of steel. Give a life grip — A death grip. "I pray you to fasten your grips."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Whatever is held forth in the palsied hand of unbelief is itself made to quiver. Scepticism is a smoking lamp, which, while it gives no light, loads the atmosphere with a thick darkness, if not with a stench.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I have heard people say that it cannot matter much what a man believes, so long as he lives up to right moral principles. They might as well remark that it does not matter if the beams of a house are rotten, so long as the door-plate is bright. Where will be the doorplate when the house falls? A hazy creed means a mazy life. A man's faith is the mainspring of his actions. He who believes nothing will do nothing, till the devil finds him work. I record as my own experience that when the foundations of faith rocked the superstructure of practice reeled.

(Edwd. Garrett.)

"I shape my creed every week," was the confession of one to me. Whereunto shall I liken such unsettled ones? Are they not like those birds which frequent the Golden Horn, and are to be seen from Constantinople, of which it is to be said that they are always on the wing, and never rest? No one ever saw them alight on the water or on the land; they are for ever poised in mid-air. The natives call them "lost souls," seeking rest and finding none. Assuredly men who have no personal rest in the truth, if they are not unsaved themselves, are, at least, very unlikely to save others.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

So that faith is necessary to keep the pattern; for it purifieth the heart inwardly, and is the true ground of all outward and acceptable obedience. And for love, that's needful also. For love helpeth attention, strengtheneth the memory, setteth the will at work, uniteth to God and man, and therefore it is rightly said that by love we fulfil the law, for without this affection our best actions neither please the Creator, nor be profitable to the creature. Would we then practise the apostle's doctrine? then let us strive for faith and love. These two support the estate of a Christian, as the two pillars did the house of the Philistines. If these be removed, the foundation of our obedience and salvation fail and fall. He that would soar to heaven wanting either of these may as soon see a bird mount on high and take her stand who wanteth one wing. Faith, like the hand, takes hold on Christ, and love, like the feet, must carry us to Him. Thou wilt say, how may I know when an action is done in faith and love? If it be done in faith: First, Thou must be in the faith, that is, in Christ, and Christ in thee (2 Corinthians 13:5). Secondly, It must be guided by the rule of faith (2 Peter 1:19). Thirdly, It must be done with faith, not doubtingly (Romans 14:23). Fourthly, It must be done to the object of our faith, viz., in obedience to God in Christ, and for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). If an action be done in love: First, It is done so freely that there is not the least expectation of any future recompense (Genesis 23. 15.) Secondly, So secretly that (if possible) none might ever come to the knowledge thereof. Thirdly, So cheerfully, as there is equal (or rather greater) joy in the doing, than receiving of the like favour. Fourthly, so affectionately, that the more good we do to any, the more we find our hearts enflamed with the love of that person. Which is in Christ Jesus. From the fourfold interpretation we may note so many doctrines.




IV. THAT FAITH AND LOVE ARE COMPREHENDED IN CHRIST JESUS.And whereas our apostle hath now brought in this phrase five several times in this short chapter, we may note divers things worthy our instruction.







(J. Barlow, D. D.)

2 Timothy 1:13 NIV
2 Timothy 1:13 NLT
2 Timothy 1:13 ESV
2 Timothy 1:13 NASB
2 Timothy 1:13 KJV

2 Timothy 1:13 Bible Apps
2 Timothy 1:13 Parallel
2 Timothy 1:13 Biblia Paralela
2 Timothy 1:13 Chinese Bible
2 Timothy 1:13 French Bible
2 Timothy 1:13 German Bible

2 Timothy 1:13 Commentaries

Bible Hub
2 Timothy 1:12
Top of Page
Top of Page