short letter is the source of a number of familiar quotations, but the letter
as a whole is somewhat out of favor amongst Bible teachers. The reason is the
rise of the “quarterly” – the neat, canned series of lessons which last one
quarter – usually either twelve or thirteen weeks. This letter is too short
does not, however, remove its usefulness in the preparation of the Christian.
We shall examine its stern ways, seeing if even the modern church can
an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life
in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus
our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my
forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,
longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with
joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in
your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind
you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of
my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love
(2Ti 1:1-7 NASB)
letter starts with the traditional (for the time) greeting. In this era it
might be months before a letter could be written and delivered, so Paul is
careful to renew their relationship first by outlining who he is, and who
says he is an apostle. The word in English has suffered lately, as virtually
all charismatic Christians have an “apostle” for what we would call a
minister. Paul’s experience is different. He is not an apostle by his
desires; he is an apostle because he was called to it. He was drafted, if you
will, on the road to Damascus. This is God’s doing, not man’s.
Paul adds a qualification: it is according to the promise of life. From the earliest
days of the Old Testament, culminating in Christ Himself, the word has been
clear: God will provide eternal life for those who please Him. It is, and
always has been, plan A. God’s purpose from the beginning could not be
is called his beloved son. It is a reflection of the fact that Paul brought
him to Christ; more than that, Paul was his mentor in the faith, his
encourager. In renewing this old friendship from afar, Paul pronounces three
great blessings upon Timothy:
– the word in the Greek means “a gift.” Either the gift of salvation, or
the many gifts of God which uphold and empower salvation, is intended.
– often translated “compassion.” Each of us will face the judgment; those
who love God will see his compassion.
One of the great gifts of God is the peace that surpasses understanding.
Those who live in the eye of the hurricane know such peace.
is renewing a relationship, and so he returns to repetition of things he said
in the first letter. Have you ever told your wife you love her – I mean, more
than once? Paul is doing the same thing. He is praying for Timothy, and wants
to see him again.
Because Timothy has shared the same trials, fought for the same faith and
suffered in like manner as Paul. He has, in other words, sincere faith – which
is the common experience of the true Christian.
reminds Timothy of his spiritual gift. It’s an important lesson. We don’t
know specifically what this was – but by the lack of evidence we may conclude
that it was not something miraculous. It is therefore like the gifts of the
Spirit today – meant to build up the church, not dazzle the observer.
fact that Paul encourages Timothy to “kindle afresh” means that such a gift can
be allowed to die out. How? Simply by not using it. That’s the natural way
such things decline. But why would we treat the gift of God so poorly?
We are afraid of what others will think. Fear turns us into quiet little mice,
where God gave us the gift of being a lion.
to do about this? We need to remember that it is His gift, and He will sustain
it. We must make the deliberate decision: nurture this gift in an environment
which will cause it to grow:
– remember, this is God’s doing. He will supply all the power you need
for it, if you will but ask.
– which includes suffering for and with this gift. Perfect love drives
– God is not the author of chaos but of order.
do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join
with me in suffering for the gospel
according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy
calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace
which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been
revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and
brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was
appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.
(2Ti 1:8-11 NASB)
you ever visited a prisoner? There is a certain sense of “shared shame” you
have the first few times – as if the criminal’s crimes were somehow rubbing off
on you. There is something about the prison atmosphere that says, “This is a
place of disgrace.” So we may feel queasy in doing it. We should not.
you are ashamed of the place of punishment, then you are ashamed of Christ
– for He went through that punishment in your place. Crucifixion is a
we should be willing to join in the witness of suffering. If one you know
is in prison for the cause of Christ (and there are more in America than you might think), what should you do for them? Most of these objected to
abortion. And the American church has turned her back on them.
such suffering you discover the power of God. It is moral judo; the world
sees you suffering, but God uses that obedience and magnifies it.
I give you an example of that last? Rosa Parks. Her refusal to go to the back
of the bus caused her arrest – and sparked much of the civil rights movement.
we obtained this
did not attain either this martyrdom (or testimony, the words are the same) not
by our own wonderful doings. It is Christ’s doing. He did this in accord with
God’s eternal purpose (remember Plan A?), by his grace - and it lasts for all
that is not the end of the matter. You’re saved, now what? He also called you
to a holy calling. Or He will, shortly – when you are ready. Let’s understand
how this works:
the Old Testament Law (and Mormonism, and Islam, and Jehovah’s Witnesses,
and who knows how many others) you became righteous by what you did. In
the New Testament, it’s different.
we are under grace. Man is made righteous by the Holy Spirit – and out of
that righteousness flows the work of the righteous man.
all comes in God’s way, in His time, for His purposes and by His Spirit –
we choose none of these.
God be the glory”
one who abolished death by His own death, who brought us immortality – He is
the one who appoints us to our posts. I am a teacher because the King of Kings
made it so; it is my glad service. If you don’t think that I’m a small cog in
a very big work, consider the nature of Christ again.
with shame in this world.
this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I
have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted
to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard
from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the
Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. You are aware of the fact that all who are
in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. The Lord
grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not
ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and
found me-- the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day--and
you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus.
(2Ti 1:12-18 NASB)
this world you will need to deal with “the shame of the chains” – the fact that
the church is not politically correct, condemned as a collection of wild-eyed
right wing fundamentalists. How do we do that?
response to that is rather simple: get your attitude straight. Let’s remember
who is who here.
know who He is. His opponents are rather insignificant compared to the
Ruler of the universe.
know what He can do – and also what He promised to do. He promised me
reward if I will be faithful to Him. I know He can deliver.
know how He will see me through the my suffering and my tasks. He holds
the future; we win.
a simple phrase, but Paul gives us four ideas on just how to do it:
with “sound words.” In other words, keep your intellectual picture of the
faith, who Jesus is and what you are supposed to do. Sound thinking is a
prerequisite for right living.
fast to the faith. Stubbornly cling to the sound words you were given.
You may not be an intellectual giant – but you should know to hang on to
the good words, and throw out the bad.
love at all opportunities. This is exercise which keeps the Faith.
recognize what your spiritual gift is – then guard it. Use it regularly,
and with the help of the Spirit, see that it never needs be rekindled.
is mentioned only in the letters to Timothy. But I would have you consider him
an example for those of us who are never going to be world famous Christians.
man is a dynamic Christian – his entire household follows him in this
has enthusiasm in the faith – see how he “eagerly searched.”
practiced the practical side of Christian charity.
did this, unashamed, even though Paul was in prison.
this, Paul commends him and pronounces a blessing upon him – that the Lord will
be merciful to him on the Last Day – the Day of Judgment. Will we find similar
favor with God? If not, why not?