a pattern of healthy words

Paul encourages his friend Timothy in his second letter to have a pattern of sound words. What does he mean by this? What are healthy words and what does he mean by having a pattern? Sound words for Timothy were the words he heard from Paul:

2 Timothy 1
13 Have a pattern of sound words, which you hear from me, in the faith and love that is in Christ Jesus.

These are the words he would believe, the good report he would testify to (:8). In this same chapter, Paul describes what this gospel entails: …our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolishes death and brings life and incorruption to light through the gospel (:10).

Life and incorruption, that speaks of resurrection power and is truly a word that is healthy: life-giving, strong and vital. After all, God’s word is living and powerful (Heb.4:12). No man can make alive, only kill. And isn’t that also what the word of men effects? Man’s word weighs down, God’s word lifts up.

A pattern is a repetition of applying the same rules. We find this in all kinds of areas: a pattern in the wallpaper, in mathematics, music, etc. We also speak of thought patterns and behavioral patterns when someone shows predictable and repetitive behavior. It would be the same with our use of words when talking about spiritual matters. Our vocabulary would be attuned to Scripture, and especially to the words of Paul, the teacher of the nations (2 Tim.1:11). That would determine our thought patterns and behavior patterns. And we would speak those words, repeatedly.

In Christianity in particular, have people not massively deviated from healthy words? In this same letter, Paul predicts that times would come when people would no longer tolerate sound teaching (4:3). From the context in which he says it, it appears that he is talking about (“Christian”) religion. All kinds of doctrines soon emerged within Christianity in which unhealthy words were leading. Words such as: hell, damnation, trinity, free will, eternal death, God the Son, immortal soul, are all terms that we do not encounter in Scripture. We wouldn’t follow that pattern!

Paul says in this same context:

1 Timothy 6
11 But you, O man of God, flee from these things…

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