5Of men corrupt in understanding, and that are destitute of the truth It is certain that here he censures the sophists, who, neglecting edification, turn the word of God into trivial distinctions, and an art of ingenious discussion. If the Apostle only shewed that the doctrine of salvation is thus rendered useless, even that would be an intolerable profanation; but far heavier and fiercer is that reproof, when he says that evils so pernicious, and plagues so hurtful, spring from it. From this passage, therefore, let us learn to detest (
σοφιστικὴν) sophistry as a thing more destructive to the Church of God than can easily be believed.
That godliness is gain The meaning is, that godliness is a gainful art; that is, because they measure the whole of Christianity by gain. Just as if the oracles of the Holy Spirit had been recorded with no other design than to serve the purposes of their covetousness, they traffic in it as merchandise exposed to sale.
Withdraw thyself from such. Paul forbids the servants of Christ to have any intercourse with such persons. He not only warns Timothy not to resemble them, but exhorts him to avoid them as dangerous plagues; for, although they do not openly resist the gospel, but, on the contrary, make a false profession of adhering to it, yet their society is infectious. Besides, if the multitude see that we are on familiar terms with those men, the danger is, lest they insinuate themselves under the guise of our friendship. (117) We should therefore, labor to the utmost, that all may know, that so far are we from being agreed with them, that they have no communication with us. (118)
(117) “Il y a danger que nostre amitie ne leur serve d’ couverture pour avoir entree a abuser les gens.” — “ is danger lest our friendship serve as a disguise for obtaining access to deceive people.”
(118) “ we hear that they who thus misrepresent the word of God make merchandise of our souls, as the Apostle Peter says (2Pe_2:3,) and that they make traffic of us and of our salvation, without any conscience, and that they make no scruple of plunging us into hell, and even to set aside the price which was paid for our redemption, it is certain that they ruin souls, and also mock at the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we hear all this, ought we not to hold such teachers in abhorrence? Besides, experience shews us that we have good reason for attending to this warning of the Apostle Paul. For to what a pitch has religion arrived! Has it not been made like a public fair? What has it become in Popery? The Sacraments are exposed to sale, and everything else belonging to our religion has a fixed price put upon it. Not more did Judas sell the Son of God in his own person than the Pope and all that filth of his clergy have sold the graces of the Holy Spirit, and all that belonged to his office and to our salvation. When we see this, have we not good reason for being on our guard?” — Fr. Ser.