II Timothy 1:13-18 “Hold fast the pattern of sound words.”
“Hold fast the pattern of sound words” (v. 13a). A bishop must be engaged in “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). A bishop needs to maintain a tight grip on “the pattern of sound words.” The word ‘sound’ carries the idea of being uncorrupted. It is most often used in association with doctrine (Cf. I Tim. 1:10; Titus 2:1-2). Later in this letter Paul will warn Timothy that at some point some of those who he must correct “will not endure sound doctrine,” but they will turn away from the truth to fables (4:3-4). The word ‘pattern’ carries the idea of a blueprint, it is a form into which uncorrupted words follow. It is the only way to be “sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13 Cf. Rom. 2:20; 6:17; I Tim. 6:3).
The word pattern also carries the idea of imitating, and Paul puts himself out to Timothy as an example he can imitate to “hold fast the pattern of sound words.” We do this not from anger but out of love. Sound doctrine is also the expression of one’s faith (v. 13b). We are able to “hold fast the pattern of sound words…in faith and love,” because these are given to those who are “in Christ Jesus.” “The pattern of sound words” is also “that good thing which was committed to” Timothy and to us (v. 14a Cf. I Tim. 6:20). We are able to keep this good thing only because the Holy Spirit dwells in us (v. 14b). There are those who do not want to be constrained by truths that form a set pattern of established and received doctrine based upon the uncorrupted word of God (v. 15).
Nevertheless, the Lord always has a remnant who in one way or another uphold sound doctrine by upholding those who preach and teach it. Not just Onesiphorus, but his household often refreshed Paul, not being ashamed of his chain. For this reason Paul prays for God’s mercy to be shown to such until “that Day” (v. 18a Cf. v. 12, 16; 4:19; Mk. 9:41; Heb. 6:10). When Paul writes that he was not ashamed of his chain, he means that he actually made the journey to Rome and sought Paul out “very zealously” until he found him (v. 17). Paul wanted to remind Timothy that this commitment by Onesiphorus actually began while Paul was in Ephesus (v. 18b). Since this is where Timothy ministered, Paul was reminding him to look to and uphold people like him for their work and support.