2 Timothy 2:22:26 (ESV):

22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Why "perhaps"? Does this mean that God does not always grant repentance to everyone? Does God grant repentance conditionally, and if so, what are the conditions?

  • 1
    Most 'word choice' questions are specific enough that there's some way to attack it with evidence and reason. When Paul uses the term 'perhaps' in this phrase without any further explanation, I really don't think this can be reasonably answered on any basis other than conjecture and opinion. Happy to hear other views if anybody feels an answer can be demonstrated with a clear hermeneutical basis.
    – Steve can help
    May 26, 2021 at 12:43
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    @DerÜbermensch - fair enough. I'll reopen and let the community decide. Thanks for your thoughts.
    – Steve can help
    May 26, 2021 at 13:08
  • The 'perhaps' is from the point of view of Timothy. Timothy is to correct others for perhaps (from Timothy's viewpoint) God may give these persons repentance. Repentance is always a gift. It does not come from within fallen humanity. Is that what you are asking : is repentance an act of human will or is repentance a gift of God, and the effect of the operations of the Holy Spirit upon those upon whom God chooses to have mercy ?
    – Nigel J
    May 26, 2021 at 13:17
  • @NigelJ - if repentance is a gift at all has been asked before (see here). However, here I'm asking if it is a conditional gift (given subject to certain conditions).
    – user38524
    May 26, 2021 at 13:40
  • God's gifts and calling are without repentance. His redemption is accomplished. None can pluck the sheep out of his hand. Conditional ? ? ?
    – Nigel J
    May 26, 2021 at 13:42

4 Answers 4


According to Alexander Buttmann,1

Sometimes in Greek a clause placed after a leading clause is yet to be regarded as dependent on a verbum sentiendi understood... Several corresponding constructions connected with various conjunctions are found in the N.T., commonly with the Subjunctive or the Future in its stead, in Luke (after historical tenses) with the Optative also... Under this head belongs also the clause with the negative interrogative μήποτε and the Subjunct[ive] 2 Tim. ii. 25 δεῖ ἤπιον εἶναι ..., μήποτε δώῃ [δῷ] αὐτοῖς ὁ θεὸς μετάνοιαν i.e. waiting to see whether God may not perchance give etc.

The servant of the Lord (cf. 2 Tim. 2:24) should instruct those who oppose themselves (τοὺς ἀντιδιατιθεμένους) and wait to see whether God will grant them repentance. The reason the servant of the Lord must instruct them is because he does not know God’s thoughts. He should not assume they are unworthy of repentance. Maybe God will use the servant of the Lord to cause them to repent. Therefore, the servant of the Lord should do his duty and leave the rest up to God.

The “whether” or “perchance” is from the perspective of the servant of the Lord, not from an assumed variableness on God’s part.


1 Buttmann, p. 256, §139, 62.
2 verbum sentiendi = verb of perception, e.g., see


Buttmann, Alexander. A Grammar of the New Testament Greek. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry. Andover: Draper, 1873.


Does God grant repentence conditionally (2 Tim. 2:25)?

Answer: Yes. We must adhere to the Gospel.

Note the last two passages in the OP:

2 Timothy 2:25b-26: "God may perhaps grant them repentance... [and] they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will."

Paul is admonishing those who are currently captives to the Devil, "[doing] his will." They must cease from this, or they may be lost. Note that the apostle Paul once wrote of his own circumstances:

1 Corinthians 9:27: "[I] discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified."

These are sobering words by one of the greatest Christians that ever lived. If we do not obey Christ, we cannot be cleansed by Him:

1 John 1:7, 9: "[If] we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Our salvation is definitely conditional, based on our behavior and obedience to Christ.


This question and the passage in question (2 Tim 2:22-26) bring to mind the parable of the fig tree:

And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. 7 And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Look! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, leave it alone for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; 9 and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’”

  • Luke 13:6-9 NASB

Instead of indicating that repentance is given conditionally or to a limited few, the word “perhaps” (2 Tim 2:25) here seems to echo the sense of hope and uncertainty that hangs over the parable of the fig tree. One wonders: will the fig tree bear fruit next year? In the same way one may ask: will the individuals in question “come to their senses” and be granted repentance?

Paul urged Timothy to be “kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Tim 2:24-25). It is as if he were asking Timothy to help facilitate their repentance. Following the analogy in the parable, it is as though Timothy were being called to play or assist in the role of the vineyard-keeper. Under the right conditions and care, the tree that is barren now may one day, perhaps, produce fruits “consistent with repentance” (Mt 3:8).


Conditions for Repentance

The word "perhaps" or "may" in 2Tim 2:25 and other similar passages signify hope or prayer. Paul is hopeful that if they sincerely turn from the heresies and unrighteousness or iniquities, and seek spirituality, truth, godliness, they will succeed in repenting. Regarding repentance, see Ezekiel 18 and 33.

[NASB Ezek 33:10-16] 10"Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, 'Thus you have spoken, saying, "Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?"' 11"Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?' 12"And you, son of man, say to your fellow citizens, 'The righteousness of a righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he will not stumble because of it in the day when he turns from his wickedness; whereas a righteous man will not be able to live by his righteousness on the day when he commits sin.' 13"When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he [so] trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die. 14"But when I say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness, 15[if a] wicked man restores a pledge, pays back what he has taken by robbery, walks by the statutes which ensure life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16"None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced justice and righteousness; he shall surely live.

The only condition for repentance is sincerity and confessing to God instead of hiding the sins.

[NASB 1John 1:6-10] 6If we say that we have fellowship with Him and [yet] walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

Easton's Bible Dictionary, Repentance:

There are three Greek words used in the New Testament to denote repentance. (1.) The verb metamelomai is used of a change of mind, such as to produce regret or even remorse on account of sin, but not necessarily a change of heart. This word is used with reference to the repentance of Judas (Mat 27:3).

(2.) Metanoeo, meaning to change one's mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge. This verb, with (3) the cognate noun metanoia, is used of true repentance, a change of mind and purpose and life, to which remission of sin is promised.

Evangelical repentance consists of (1) a true sense of one's own guilt and sinfulness; (2) an apprehension of God's mercy in Christ; (3) an actual hatred of sin (Psa 119:128; Job 42:5,6; 2Cr 7:10) and turning from it to God; and (4) a persistent endeavour after a holy life in a walking with God in the way of his commandments.

The true penitent is conscious of guilt (Psa 51:4,9), of pollution (51:5,7,10), and of helplessness (51:11; 109:21,22). Thus he apprehends himself to be just what God has always seen him to be and declares him to be. But repentance comprehends not only such a sense of sin, but also an apprehension of mercy, without which there can be no true repentance (Psa 51:1; 130:4).

Regarding the phrase about granting repentance, Bullinger's Figures of speech book is key to understand Biblical figurative language. Passive works are often written as active verbs in the Hebrew theology. So technically God doesn't grant repentance, but allows it through man's freewill, though such language depicts the sovereignty of God, it often causes confusion to those unlearned of the Hebrew literature and theology.

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