Ver. 2. A direction is now given how best to secure the transmission of the testimony he was called to bear for Christ, and its faithful maintenance in the church: and the things which thou hast heard from me with many witnesses, these commit to faithful men, such as shall be able to teach others also. The things that had been heard are undoubtedly the same as those referred to in 2Ti_1:13, and are no more in the one case than in the other to be confined to what was uttered on some particular occasion. It is the whole scheme of doctrine and duty as taught by the apostle, and which Timothy had enjoyed numberless opportunities of listening to, that is here meant; not simply, as many commentators suppose, what was delivered of it at Timothy’s ordination. This were an unwarranted abridgment, and is no way countenanced, but the reverse, by the mention of many witnesses in connection with the things delivered—
äéὰ ðïëëῶí ìáñôýñùí
, literally, through these; but as at 2Co_2:4, where the apostle speaks of writing through many tears, meaning with tears accompanying and giving a specific impress to his work, so here the “through many witnesses must signify with them, their presence forming a clear indication of the character of the things spoken and heard. These were no private communications, no secret doctrine delivered in a corner, as if adapted only to the wants of a select few, or intended to minister merely to personal gratification. They were the great things which concern the salvation of men and the glory of God; therefore things which all ears should hear, and which it was important to have committed in every particular church to faithful men (
, men worthy of such a trust), in order that these might testify aright concerning them, and in turn find others who should receive and deliver the testimony to the generation following. This is the true apostolic succession; the kernel lies here, in the maintenance from age to age of the same grand fundamental principles of faith and practice. External organizations are but the shell which may more or less fitly serve to guard and perpetuate the treasure; and it is by the possession of this, the kernel, or gospel treasure, that the worth of the other is to be tried, not that other which is to determine or modify it. Both the doctrina arcani (the secret traditionary doctrine) of the Catholics, and the so-called impressed character and inherent virtue of a ministerial sacerdotalism in the Christian church, are here virtually struck at the root.