In 2 Timothy 2:20-21, Paul uses the term “vessel.” Having drawn the contrast between true and false teachers at some length (vss. 14-19), Paul now points to a second contrast between noble and ignoble vessels. Both will be found in the church. “But in a great house,” where a wealthy man lives, “there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth …” Those that are gold receive honor by the owner. Some less eminent articles are “of silver,” but others are of “wood” (e.g., wooden bowls for holding flour) or “earth” (e.g., pottery). The latter two have a more mundane use.
We find the same two expressions in Romans 9:21. In the verses that follow, the former vessels are “vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory” (vs. 23), whereas the latter are “vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” (vs. 22). On the basis of this, as well as the context in 2 Timothy, the articles for ignoble purposes are the false teachers in the church (vss. 16-18), who are destined for eternal destruction. So, “if a man therefore purge himself from these” (vs. 21) means that Timothy must expel from the church the ignoble members.
Will we be vessels of honor or dishonor? Will we purge or cleanse ourselves from false doctrine? The church must mark the heretic and the false teacher (Romans 16:17-18; Titus 3:10-11). The individual Christian must not let the false teacher influence them (1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Timothy 1:16-18). Do you want to be blessed eternally? If so, study your Bible, accept only God’s truth and become a vessel that is honorable to the Lord!