“IF GOD PERADVENTURE WILL GIVE THEM REPENTANCE…?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
What should we make of 2 Timothy 2:25? “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;” That latter half—the conditional statement beginning with “if God peradventure”—puzzles some Bible readers. Should we conclude that God will reveal His truths to some but will hide it from others? Is He not unfair? Why does He not want all people to come to the knowledge of the truth? Or, does He? Then, what about this verse?
Friend, have you ever noticed how some people appeared to have/know and believe the truth, to be on the right track concerning sound Bible teaching, but then suddenly went off into apostasy? Sure. We all have. Maybe they went to a Bible-believing church for years, seemingly maturing in the Scriptures. They professed Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Perhaps they even taught Sunday School or sang in the choir. Then, one day, you found out that they returned to their old denomination, or perhaps threw out the Bible and God altogether and went back into “the world!” Not long ago, I dealt with Christians who were astounded that their friends and relatives who had attended their Bible churches and home Bible studies for years, suddenly went back to their cults (former denominations)! This should not shock or disappoint us because 2 Timothy 2:25 was God’s comment on these events thousands of years before they happened!
We start at 2 Timothy 2:24 and read to the end of the chapter: “ And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul said “the servant of the Lord must not strive,” or pick fights and argue (acting combative). God’s man or woman should “be gentle unto all men [people], apt [able] to teach, patient [longsuffering]” (verse 24). We should make every attempt possible to reach Christians and non-Christians alike with the truth of God’s word rightly divided. We should be presenting a clear Gospel message to the lost (1 Corinthians 15:3-4—“Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day”), and sound Bible teaching to the saved (all Scripture taught in light of Pauline doctrine). Opposition will arise, so we should be patient, trying to slowly turn them around and dealing with them as long as they are willing to hear. Some cases will take much longer than others. Whenever they start resisting, however, we need to back away and respect their free will. We need to leave them alone, letting them come back to us (hopefully, they will have a better attitude next time).
Verse 25 says, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;….” Here is our “problem verse.” We should “in meekness”—or humility rather than pride—“instruct those that oppose themselves.” Those who oppose themselves are Christians who live contrary to the grace of God. They do not live out of the identity and resources God gave them in Christ. No, they are so works-oriented, so denominationally minded, that they refuse to be renewed by dispensational Bible truth day by day. They are corrupted by human wisdom, and are thus void of God’s wisdom. How it quenches/hinders the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and grieves Him (Ephesians 4:30) because He cannot work in their lives! Lost people “oppose themselves” in that they are living contrary to how God designed a human to live. They should be glorifying their Creator, not living for themselves. (Christians should be living as God designed Christians to live, and lost people should become Christians so they can live as God designed humans to live!)
We instruct those we reach in the ministry, attempting to reform their thinking first (and behavior will be corrected). However, it is not guaranteed that they will respond positively to that Word of God’s grace. Some will outright reject it (some will make that known most violently and loudly!). The “educated” philosophers in Athens laughed at Paul’s “gossip” preaching about Christ’s resurrection (Acts 17:32). Idolaters in Ephesus incited a massive riot that nearly killed Paul (Acts 19:23-41).
Some will keep it momentarily, and then toss it. The Galatians believed God’s Word through Paul at first, but then abandoned it. This was also true of the Corinthians. Others will believe it and stay with it for an extended time, actually maturing in it. You can see that in the Thessalonians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Eventually, the “Asians” (citizens of Asia Minor, modern Turkey—cities of Ephesus, Colosse, Troas, et cetera) abandoned it. Paul, writing at the end of his ministry and life: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). This, you should recognize, is part of the epistle where we find 2 Timothy 2:25!
“In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;….” That conditional part is explained as follows—those in our audience may change their mind to the point where they acknowledge the Bible truth we shared, or they may not change their mind and therefore retain their erroneous notions. God’s will for them is the first outcome—“…God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). It is God’s will that all individuals trust His only begotten Son as their personal Saviour. It is also His will that all come to the knowledge of the truth (especially Christians). However, He will not force His Word on either group.
Do not read 2 Timothy 2:25 as though God may choose to enlighten them or He may not choose to enlighten them. No. The condition depends on them, not Him! They may want the truth (and He will respect their free will by teaching them through us preaching His Word), or they may not want His Word (and He will leave them in their spiritual blindness). Remember, the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: “If any man will do his [Father God’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). Jesus Christ declared you can know God’s will if you want to do His will! Friend, that applies to Christians and non-Christians alike! Father God wants lost people saved, and saved people edified. Do we? Do you?
Second Timothy 2:25 is a great encouragement in that it shows us that even when we do as much as we can to spread dispensational Bible truths, some will deny it and/or abandon it as though we never uttered a word to them. It is not that we did not share enough verses with them. (If the first verse did not convince them, the others would not have either!) It is not that we did not make the Word of God plain enough. (If they had questions, they would have asked them in sincerity!)
All people, saved and lost, are to some degree resistant to learning from God’s Word. Even as grace believers, we are not always 100% engaged while reading and studying it. Sometimes, we are reading verses through denominational eyeglasses, causing them to say something they do not say. There are traditional ideas from our past that are hard to break from and thus still cloud our thinking. We find ourselves in Satan’s snare, fulfilling his will of hiding God’s truth from others and ourselves. The good news is that, if we find ourselves in such a predicament, there is a solution! We had better find a servant of the Lord who will teach us and guide us into the doctrine of God’s grace!
Second Timothy 2:24-26: “ And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”