One of the biggest reasons people don’t evangelize is their fear of being unable to answer objections. No passage in the entire Bible gives us more help than 2 Timothy 2:23-25.
But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.
Paul’s primary focus was not how to answer objections but how to respond to the one who objects to the message. We can be tempted to be prideful, contentious, and conceited when confronting error. Such an attitude can permeate evangelism and have a negative impact on our relationships with unbelievers. Focusing on the argument rather than the person breeds more of the same thing – more arguments.
In contrast, Paul lists three attributes in verse 24 that we should display when confronted with these arguments. We should be:
• Gentle to all—be approachable in our demeanor.
• Able to teach—sincerely desire to lead people to the truth.
• Patient—restraint in the face of opposition.
Lost people need our patience, not our pride. Those who do not have the Lord need our integrity, not our intellect. They need our maturity, not our immaturity. Lost people do not need to know how much we know. They need to know how much we care.
Verse 25 states we should correct those who oppose us in humility. Why? The answer is so simple we miss it. When someone objects to the gospel message, the problem is ultimately spiritual, not intellectual. They will only come to the truth when God brings them. This is clarified in verse 25: “if God perhaps will grant them repentance.” The word repentance means that God might “change their minds.”
So Paul’s advice to Timothy could be summarized in one sentence. In responding to those who object to the gospel message, use a gentle attitude, not a hostile argument.