Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Sunday, May 26

“My Deposit” (2 Tim 1:12)

I just got back from a week of teaching the Pastorals at the Carolina School of Divinity. In going through the Pastorals again I was reminded how difficult some Greek can be to exegete. The interpretation of some passages just ends up being 50/50, and 2 Tim 1:12 is one of them.

In my commentary I translated it, “I am not ashamed, for I know in whom I have trusted and I am fully convinced that he is able to guard my deposit (δυνατός ἐστιν τὴν παραθήκην μου φυλάξαι) until that day.”

Is Paul convinced God can guard what God entrusted to Paul (e.g., the gospel), or what Paul entrusted to God (his life)? The Greek allows both, and my point today is that the arguments are strong for both positions.

In favor of God entrusting the gospel to Paul are the following (I am quoting from my commentary).

  1. The context is the gospel, referred to directly or indirectly in every verse since v 8.
  2. Two verses later, as well as in 1 Tim 6:20, Paul uses the same term, παραθήκη, clearly in reference to the gospel.
  3. It fits the flow of the argument. Paul was entrusted with the gospel, and now that he will suffer to the point of death, he is still convinced that God will continue to guard it. Because of the context, it is implied that God will guard the gospel by entrusting it to Timothy and other reliable people (2 Tim 2:2).

In favor of seeing Paul entrusting his life to God are the following.

  1. In the other two passages, Timothy is the guard and not God, and here Paul states that it is “my” (μοῦ) deposit. These two differences set our passage apart from the others.
  2. The eschatological orientation of guarding the deposit “until that day,” the day of judgment, fits better with Paul’s soul being kept safe than with the gospel being kept safe.
  3. The previous phrase, “in whom I have trusted,” suggests the idea of Paul placing something of his own (“faith,” “my deposit”) into God’s care.
  4. It also fits the flow of the passage as Paul encourages Timothy to share in suffering. Paul has suffered his share for the gospel, and despite his current imprisonment and certain death, he is fully convinced that God can continue to protect his life, even through death. Likewise Timothy should have no fear of his Ephesian opponents or of suffering for the gospel, for he too can trust that God is able to guard his life.

Strong arguments both directions. When the arguments for two positions are apparently equally strong, sometimes I wonder if we are asking the wrong question. I did go with the second interpretation because I thought it fit the context bit, but these are hard decisions.

Comments

I think "my deposit" is Paul's work. His life's work was the gospel. The gospel was his life. But it's his work. His life's work. Which was the gospel. But I would not have even known to look at this if it wasn't for your posting. I absolutely love this blog of yours. Even though I disagree here and there, it is quite insightful and I learn a lot. Thank you much.

Bill, The NASB Key-Word Bible (2008)has Theos (in Theos en ho logos)as the Predicate Adjective (pp.1396,1706). As you know Dan Wallace great summary of 80 years of interpretation has Theos as an anarthrous, preverbal Predicate Nominative. Wallace's discussion of the adjective in the the First Predicate Position: adjective-article-noun (pp.307-08)would appear to allow Theos to be seen as a Predicate Adjective as well. Are both allowed and does it matter regarding the translation value? Is it just a matter of seeing the Predicate Nominative noun functioning as an adjective, or the Predicate Adjective functioning as a noun? Also, does the stative verb (en) favor either the PN or the PA construction? Thanks, and sorry for the lengthy question. Mike Ganim

If Dan says it is a possibility, I for one am not going to disagree.

I was wondering if there is any support for the idea that "my deposit" in this text (2 Tim 1:12) refers to Paul's investment of the Gospel in Timothy's life. The three uses of παραθήκην in Scripture occur in Paul's writing to Timothy, and, as you point out here (from your commentary), this instance is different from the other two in which Paul orders Timothy to guard the deposit (1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 1:14). It would fit the flow of the text as well as the overall theme of the epistle: Paul is exhorting Timothy to not be ashamed, and in doing so expresses his own confidence in God to keep "my deposit" (entrusted to Timothy?), and he follows up with instructions follow in what "you have heard from me" (the deposit?), which is clearly attached to the faith and love of Christ (v. 13), ending with "guard the good deposit" by the Holy Spirit (v. 14). [While I'm here, I'd like to thank you for your dedication to teaching the Greek language. I'm happy to report that my Greek students here in Brazil really appreciate the contribution your work (BBG) provides to our class.]