Proverbs Lesson 9


Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World

Lesson 9 | August 7, 2016

Prepared by Daniel L. Segraves, PhD

How the New Testament uses the Book of Proverbs

There are allusions to five Proverbs in the NT. In this lesson we will look at the last proverb to which the NT alludes.

Sixth Allusion

“If you say, ‘Surely we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?” (24:12).

 “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works” (II Timothy 4:14).

                This is the third time we have looked at NT references to 24:12. First, we saw how Jesus quoted this verse in Matthew 16:27 in reference to His second coming, applying it to Himself and thus asserting His deity. Second, we saw the way Paul alluded to 24:12 in Romans 2:6 as he developed the idea of universal sinfulness.

In this lesson, we will see how Paul alluded to 24:12 again in II Timothy 4:14. First, notice that Paul referred to Alexander the coppersmith in two verses:

“Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words” (II Timothy 4:14-15).

                In the context of this reference to Alexander, Paul mentioned seventeen people by name (9-21). Altogether, Paul mentioned twenty-six people[1] in this short letter. This second letter to Timothy sometimes called a “prison epistle,” for Paul wrote it during his second imprisonment in Rome. He wrote the letter during the waning days of his life, perhaps as late as 67 a.d., shortly before his martyrdom.

II Timothy is also referred to as a “pastoral epistle,” because Timothy was a young pastor. Paul wrote to encourage Timothy to be faithful in the face of suffering and to avoid being influenced by false teachers. He also wanted Timothy to visit him before winter, bringing Mark with him as well as a cloak, books, and parchments (4:9, 11, 13, 21).

Of the twenty-six people Paul mentioned, eighteen were commended or merely mentioned; eight were identified as false teachers or compared to them.

Commended or Merely Mentioned

Timothy (1:2)

Lois, Timothy’s grandmother (1:5)

Eunice, Timothy’s mother (1:5)

Onesiphorus (1:16; 4:19)

Crescens (4:10)

Titus (4:10)

Luke (4:11)

Mark (4:11)

Tychicus (4:12)

Carpus (4:13)

Prisca (4:19)

Aquila (4:19)

Erastus (4:20)

Trophimus (4:20)

Eubulus (4:21)

Pudens (4:21)

Linus (4:21)

Claudia (4:21)

Identified as False Teachers or Compared to them

Phygellus (1:15)

Hermogenes (1:15)

Hymenaeus (2:17)

Philetus (2:17)

Jannes (3:8)

Jambres (3:8)

Demas (4:10)

Alexander (4:14)

The Women

Four women were named in this letter: Lois, Eunice, Prisca (also known as Priscilla), and Claudia. No women are included in the list of false teachers.

A Brief Review of Some of the Cast

Timothy’s father was a Gentile (Acts 16:1, 3). Nevertheless, Timothy had known the Holy Scriptures “from childhood” (3:15). Typically, Jewish fathers saw to their son’s instruction in the Scriptures, but grandmothers were known to teach grandsons for those “without a living religious father.”[2]

Phygellus and Hermogenes had “turned away” from Paul. This is all we know about these two, but the immediate context indicates they had not held “fast the pattern of sound words” they had heard from Paul (1:13-15).

Onesiphorus seems to have had the gift of hospitality, and the genuineness of his faith appears to have influenced his entire household. He may have died before Paul wrote this letter, for only his household is mentioned (1:16-18; 4:19).

Hymenaeus and Philetus were false teachers who said the resurrection had already occurred. Hymenaeus is mentioned, along with Alexander, in I Timothy 1:20. Their faith had been “shipwrecked,” and Paul had “delivered them to Satan” so they would “learn not to blaspheme” (I Timothy 1:18-20).

Jannes and Jambres were the names given in Jewish tradition to Pharoah’s magicians who “resisted Moses” (3:8).

Demas was previously a fellow worker with Paul and other believers (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24). But he forsook the life of faith because he “loved this present world” (4:10). Perhaps he was among those whose faith had been overthrown by teachers like Hymenaeus and Philetus (2:18).

Paul had nothing negative to say of Crescens, Titus, Luke, Mark, Tychicus, or Carpus (4:10-13). His desire to see Mark indicates he had recovered from his earlier refusal to include Mark in his second missionary journey (Acts 15:36-40).

It may be significant that Paul waited until near the end of his letter to mention Alexander the coppersmith, who had done him “much harm” (4:14). He warned Timothy to “beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words” (4:15). It is certainly significant that when Paul thought of Alexander, Proverbs 24:12 came to his mind.  It is at least possible that Paul also thought of Alexander in the larger context of Proverbs 24:12, as a weak, troublemaking, scoffing schemer who plotted evil, devised foolishness, and whose teaching led to death rather than life. (See Proverbs 24:1-2, 7-12.)

[1] This number includes Timothy but excludes Moses.

[2] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 624.