Is Paul quoting scriptures when he says “The Lord knows those who are His;” “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to keep away from wickedness.” ?

Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His;” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to keep away from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:19 NASB)

3 Answers 3


2 Tim 2:19 says:

Nevertheless, God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal:

  • “The Lord knows those who are His,” and,

  • “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord must turn away from iniquity.”

The first quotation appears to be from Num 16:5 -

Then he said to Korah and all his followers, “Tomorrow morning the LORD will reveal who belongs to Him and who is holy, and He will bring that person near to Himself. The one He chooses, He will bring near to Himself.

However, we get an even better fit by comparing with the same verse in LXX:

And he spoke to Core and all his assembly, saying, God has visited and known those that are his and who are holy, and has brought them to himself; and whom he has chosen for himself, he has brought to himself.

The second quotation is less direct and more difficult to pinpoint, but may be an allusion to Isa 52:11 -

Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing; come out from it, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of the LORD.

However, the link is not obvious as Ellicott observes:

And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.—The thought and the words are from the Old Testament. The thought is expressed in a wider and more general form in Isaiah 52:11 : “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing . . . Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord;” and for the words “nameth the name of the Lord,” see Isaiah 26:13.

  • Thanks for clearing that up. The first fits as the hand in a glove with LXX the other one I am not so sure. Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 9:13

Yes, ISV Bible footnotes on 2 Tim 2:19 Cf. Num 16:5 and Cf. Num 16:26. It is rather allusion than exact quotation, we would hardly find exact quotations, since that was unnecessary. Quotes or allusions of scripture can come also as amalgamation of multiple references. See Midrash for advanced hermeneutics study.

ISV Nahum 1:7: “ The Lord is good a refuge in troubled times. He knows those who are confiding in him.”

Numbers 16:5: “Then he addressed Korah and his entire company, "In the morning, may the Lord reveal who belongs to him and who is holy. May he cause that person to approach him. May he cause to approach him the one whom he has chosen.”

Numbers 16:21-26: “"Separate yourselves from among this community, and I'll destroy them in a moment." Then they fell on their faces and said, "God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, will you be angry at the entire congregation on account of one man's sin?" Then the Lord instructed Moses, "Tell the community to move away from where Korah, Dathan, and Abiram are living." So Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. Then he told the community, "Move away from the camps of these wicked men and don't touch anything that belongs to them. That way you won't be destroyed along with all their sins."”

Regarding Everyone who names the name of the Lord, depart from wickedness must be an allusion to Isaiah 52:11+26:13. The Expositor's Greek Testament states:

Ἀποστήτω κ.τ.λ.: The language is perhaps another echo of the story of Korah: Ἀποσχίσθητε ἀπὸ τῶν σκηνῶν τῶν ἀνθρώπων τῶν σκληρῶν τούτων … μὴ συναπόλησθε ἐν πάσῃ τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ αὐτῶν. καὶ ἀπέστησαν ἀπὸ τῆς σκηνῆς Κόρε (Num 16:26-27). But Isa 52:11 is nearer in sentiment, ἀπόστητε ἀπόστητε, ἐξέλθατε ἐκεῖθεν καὶ ἀκαθάρτου μὴ ἅψησθε, … οἱ φέροντες τὰ σκεύη Κυρίου, cf. Luk 13:27. Also Isa 26:13, Κύριε, ἐκτὸς σοῦ ἄλλον οὐκ οἴδαμεν, τὸ ὄνομά σου ὀνομάζομεν. The spiritual logic of the appeal is the same as that of Gal 5:25, “If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk”. Bengel thinks that ἀπὸ ἀδικίας is equivalent to ἀπὸ ἀδίκων, the abstract for the concrete; cf. 2Ti 2:21, “purge himself from these”.

The phrase ὁ ὀνομάζων τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου - He who names the name of Lord is the same as the blasphemy verse Leviticus 24:16 ὀνομάζων δὲ τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου θανάτῳ θανατούσθω he that names the name of the Lord, let him die the death (Brenton's English translation LXX). The blasphemy context of the phrase would refer to the harassment of God, which may be an idiomatic meaning of "naming or taking someone's name". See this site Lexicon-Katabiblon for easy references of OT quotes or allusions in the NT. Kata Biblon Wiki Lexicon, they have even listed the allusions on all NT verses, the exact thing many here are looking for. On 2Tim 2:19 it states:

  • a Nm. 16:5 LXX: "καὶ ἐλάλησεν πρὸς Κορε καὶ πρὸς πᾶσαν αὐτοῦ τὴν συναγωγὴν λέγων ἐπέσκεπται καὶ ἔγνω ὁ θεὸς τοὺς ὄντας αὐτοῦ..." [And he spoke to Core [Korah] and all his assembly, saying, God has visited and known those that are his... (Brenton)].
  • b Is. 26:13 LXX: "...κύριε ἐκτὸς σοῦ ἄλλον οὐκ οἴδαμεν τὸ ὄνομά σου ὀνομάζομεν" [...O Lord, we know not any other beside thee: we name thy name (Brenton)].
  • c Job 36:10 LXX: "ἀλλὰ τοῦ δικαίου εἰσακούσεται καὶ εἶπεν ὅτι ἐπιστραφήσονται ἐξ ἀδικίας" [But he will hearken to the righteous: and he has said that they shall turn from unrighteousness (Brenton)].

The first quotation is definitely from the Greek OT:

Num 16:5 'ΕΓΝⲰ Ο ΘΕΟC ΤΟΥC ΟΝΤΑC ΑΥΤΟΥ' (know Theos those being His)
2Tim 2:19 'ΕΓΝⲰ ΚΥΡΙΟC ΤΟΥC ΟΝΤΑC ΑΥΤΟΥ' (know Lord those being His)

Only 'Theos' is exchanged for 'Kurios' (Lord), which is obviously not a problem for the quality of the quotation. Those minor changes occur regularly in quotations, depending on the emphasis and/or context of the respective passage.

The second 'quotation' is probably not even a quotation, nor does Paul indicate this through the usual keywords. The word 'KAI' (and) could point to a subsequent quotation, but must not.

We have other very similar constellations in Paul's letters, with e.g. sentences starting with 'KAI' in between 2 quotations (e.g. Rom 9:25-26, where the last sentence of verse 25 does not belong to the quote); or sentences after a quotation, but still appearing to be part of it and erroneously being marked as such in Bible translations (see 1Cor 2:9 where the last 2 sentences of the verse are not part of the quotation and start also with 'KAI'; see also 1Cor 15:45 and Eph 6:2-3).

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