II Timothy

II Timothy 2:20-26 A Great House.

Sanctification involves the building of a great house, which starts with a pure heart. We are called to be vessels of honour-“sanctified and useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (v. 21). Sanctification is a two sided affair-fleeing youthful lusts, and pursuing “righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (v. 22 Cf. I Tim. 6:11). This does not change the fact that God is the potter, in fact it is possible for the elect because He is the potter (Cf. Rom. 9:21). Again Paul urges Timothy to avoid “foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (v. 23). We are called to be servants of the Lord, and quarrelling over unimportant matters, or worse still, profane speech, must not occupy our time and efforts. Instead we must be gentle, because we are in a profession calling on people to correct their way of living (Cf. I Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:9; 3:2). This demands of us humility, because we stand before the word being corrected ourselves (Cf. I Tim. 6:1). The hope must always be that those who live contrary will be granted repentance from the Lord, and granted it must be, for we cannot even manage this of ourselves. The ultimate goal is that people would come to know and accept the truth in doctrine and life. It is a spiritual war, the devil having taken them captive (Cf. I Tim. 3:7).

II Timothy 2

II Timothy 2:14-19 Not Ashamed.

In the midst of a cacophony of words, a striving for argument sake, the word of God comes as “the word of truth” (v. 15b). Paul’s charge to Timothy was to remind his flock of the things he has written to him about, in turn charging them to not “strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers” (v. 14b). He elaborated on these words when he charged Titus with the same thing-“avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless” (3:9). In this letter to Timothy, Paul refers to this activity as “profane and idle babblings” which must be shunned, because “they will increase to more ungodliness” (v. 16). By the same token, sound doctrine will always issue forth in a life of godliness. The bible knows nothing of a theology that doesn’t make one more godly. Make no mistake, life follows doctrine, orthopraxy follows orthodoxy.

Some err when they use these verses to disparage the discussion of sound doctrine-usually a tactic of those who do not want to be tested and examined as to whether their beliefs are scriptural. In fact, it is the right dividing of the word which is the exact counter and anecdote to this disease. Orthodox Christian doctrine is that which has stood the test of biblical scrutiny down through the centuries, which is the opposite of what those who love to argue, for the sake of dividing, really want. There is a right dividing of the word which merits the catholic universal consent of the true church. There is a wrong dividing of the word which also wrongly divides the body. The former strengthens Christ’s church, but the latter does not profit, and only leads to the ruin of the hearers. The former have a “solid foundation” (v. 19) on which to stand, the latter stray and are overthrown (v. 18).

It takes diligence to present oneself as a worker, in this case a faithful minister of the word, who understands that scripture is it’s own interpreter, and that God’s truth is one not many. The scripture cannot contradict itself. Rightly dividing the word is letting the clear interpret what may seem to us to be less clear, that we truly understand the mind of the Lord. One ought to be ashamed if one is a minister of the word but having no understanding of biblical and systematic theology. Sadly, the profane and idle babblings of those who have strayed from the truth, often spread like cancer, or like weeds in a garden intended for flowers and vegetables (v. 17). Unless it is removed it will soon infect the whole body and choke it of it’s life. Note well the examples Paul gives, of those who rejected the orthodox doctrine of the resurrection (v. 18 Cf. I Cor. 15:12; I Tim. 1:20).

Sound doctrine is the lifeblood of a true church of Jesus Christ. Another doctrine which Paul highlights is the doctrine of predestination and election. Let no one say that this is a doctrine that divides-quite the opposite. Paul acknowledges that some stray from the truth, and their faith is thus overthrown, because they are persuaded by the false teachers. However, these by their departure, show that they never were numbered among the elect (Cf. I Jn. 2:19; II Pet. 1:10). “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity’” (v. 19). “A quotation from Num. 16:5 (according to the Septuagint translation). Inscribed on the people of God is His eternal decree of election (v. 11), which ensures the security of the body of Christ (Jn. 10:29)” (NGSB p. 1920 Cf. Ps. 1:6; Nah. 1:7; Jn. 10:14).

II Timothy

II Timothy 2:11-13 A Faithful Saying.

This was the fourth of Paul’s five ‘faithful’ sayings (v. 11a Cf. I Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4:9). They speak to an important and well established point, something “to affirm constantly” (Titus 3:8). This particular one may have been a hymnic fragment, repeated constantly in the gathered assembly. Dying and living with Christ speaks to our union with Him (v. 11b Cf. Rom. 6:3-11). It is where our new life begins, symbolized in baptism. Enduring to the end speaks to our life lived, which will ultimately find us reigning with Him (v. 12a). Those who deny Him show that they were never in union with Him, for endurance follows union. At the judgment these will be denied (v. 12b Cf. Mt. 10:33). And yet, “if we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (v. 13b). What God has spoken, He will make good (Cf. Nu. 23:19). His word does not fail, nor the promise of rest found therein (Cf. I Kgs 8:56). “This is a wonderful affirmation of assurance that although we are called to endure and be faithful, salvation does not rest ultimately on our faithfulness, but upon that of Christ (v. 19)” (NGSB. P. 1920).

II Timothy

II Timothy 2:8-10 The Word Of God Is Not Chained.

Without the resurrection there is no gospel (v. 8b Cf. Rom. 1:4). Of course, resurrection assumes death, and death assumes a life lived. It was because of his teaching on the resurrection that he suffered persecution from many of his own countryman, “even to the point of chains” (v. 9a). Paul also made the point that it is Jesus who was the Christ, also being “of the seed of David” (v. 8a Cf. Rom. 1:3). This was all “according to the scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3-4). What also kept him going, despite his chains, was the reality that “the word of God is not chained” (v. 9b). We know this motivated him because he says, “therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect” (v. 10a). We must not miss this second part to Paul’s point. He also endured hardship for the elect because he knew that for the elect the word would indeed take root. Our labour, including our hardship, is not in vain, because the word is not chained, and it is effectual for the elect. God predestines the means as well the end. The elect are chosen before the foundation of the world (Cf. 1:9), but it is through the faithful preaching of the gospel “that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (v. 10b).

II Timothy

II Timothy 2:1-7 Soldier, Athlete, And Farmer.

Some will fight against gospel preachers (1:15), but others will sacrifice and go out of their way to provide support and comfort (1:16-18). The former will be cursed, but the latter blessed. When the gospel is clearly and fearlessly presented, there is no neutral ground on which to stand. One is either for Christ or against Him. This is but one reason why Timothy needed to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2:1). Paul said this same thing in his letter to the Ephesians, where Timothy was posted, just before his instructions about putting on the full armour of God (6:10). In his previous letter, Paul’s charge to Timothy was to “wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” (1:18b-19).

Paul urged Timothy to remember what Paul had taught, and Paul was careful to state that this word was witnessed to. This is a very important part of the scriptural testimony-“By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established” (II Cor. 13:1). The bible is a covenantal document presenting to humanity life and death (Dt. 19:15). It is it’s own witness, coming as it does from the triune God. It was this very testimony which Paul, as an apostle, instructed Timothy to both remember and to pass on to other men who might also teach it. A good minister of the word, who is fighting the good fight of faith, must also train others to teach. He must be like Moses who trained others to share the mantel of leadership in the covenant community.

In this passage Paul also uses analogies-three. First there is the soldier. Incidentally, Jesus never forbade being a soldier, only that one act justly and not be greedy (Lk. 3:14). A good soldier must endure hardship-it comes with the position and job. Such is the case for an evangelist (4:5). We are engaged in warfare for souls. The affairs of this life are necessary, but one should not be entangled with them. Christ has enlisted us, and it is Him we must please (v. 4b). In his second analogy Paul highlights that there are no shortcuts. All athletes must compete on a level playing field (v. 5 Cf. I Cor. 9:25). As servants of the Lord we may want an easier way but it often does not come with the job. It also brings out the point that we must do His work according to His rules found in the word.

One would imagine that Paul might use three separate analogies to drive home the same points, and it is certainly true that both the soldier and the athlete are hardworking, the athlete and the farmer must endure hardship, and the soldier and farmer must follow the “rules” of their profession. However, in addition to this, Paul also seems to be following a sequence of ideas. The first thing a minister of the word must realize is that the role and job will involve hardship, but we accept this knowing it is the Lord we seek to please. However, this is not open ended. We are called or enlisted to also serve Him His way, by the rules of His word-the regulative principle. In his third analogy he adds that the minister of the word must know for himself the truth of which he preaches.

In is a sad truth that many have preached the gospel who had no experience of it’s power themselves. Paul did not want Timothy to be so engaged in the work that he neglected his own soul. A good minister must first preach the word to himself. This last analogy also brings out a truth which Paul highlighted elsewhere, namely that a minister of the word is entitled to receive his living from the work. A farmer could never grow food for others if he failed to feed himself. The same holds true for all ministers of the word-spiritually and physically. All three analogies hold out the promise of future reward-the fruits of one’s labour. These are truths we need to consider, praying that the Lord would indeed give us “understanding in all things” (v. 7 Cf. Prov. 2:6).

II Timothy

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.

II Timothy

II Timothy 1:8-12 Not Ashamed.

Paul told Timothy to not be ashamed of the gospel or of him for being imprisoned for preaching it (Cf. Eph. 3:1). The gospel is the power of God, even in the midst of suffering for it (v. 8 Cf. Rom. 1:16). It is God who saves us and not we ourselves, and He has “called us with a holy calling” (v. 9a). This holy calling is an effectual one, and because it is effectual one it is also a call for us to be holy. It must be God making it effectual because it is “not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (v. 9). We have been effectually called “according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). This purpose was before time began, in the counsels of eternity, and based solely on grace.

This mystery which was once hidden was “revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (v. 10). This is also why Paul was not ashamed of the gospel, because in the gospel of Christ we are saved from death to live forever with Him. He was “appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles” (v. 11). Paul did not assume these roles, and although the apostolic office has ceased, God still appoints preachers and teachers to make known the gospel to all nations. He wasn’t suffering for his own misdeeds, he was suffering for the sake of the gospel, of which he was not ashamed (v. 12a Cf. Acts 9:16). This hope rested on the one he believed in, and was persuaded that he could commit everything “to Him until that Day” (v. 12b).

II Timothy

II Timothy 1:1-7 The Faith Of Our Forefathers.

Paul was an apostle, that is an ambassador, a messenger not of his own doing, but called to this by the will of God. The message he was called to deliver is that in the gospel of Jesus Christ alone there is a promise of eternal life (v. 1). This hope of eternal life was promised before time began (Titus 1:2). This was Paul’s second letter to his pastoral protégé, his “true son in the faith” (I Tim. 1:2 Cf. II Tim. 2:1), but it was the last letter by him. In his typical greeting Paul sees mercy and peace flowing from grace-God’s unmerited favour (v. 2). The first thing to note, following the greeting, is that Paul gives thanks to God, whom he served “with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did” (v. 3a). Paul did not view himself as rejecting the religion of his forefathers when he was converted to Christ, rather he saw his calling as one which took him out of an apostate Judaism to acceptance of the Messiah whom his forefathers worshipped.

Paul was so convinced of this truth that he says that his conscience is pure. Paul had no doubts about this and therefore he preached the gospel with full integrity as that which his forefathers had also believed. “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets” (Acts 24:14). So “without ceasing,” he remembered Timothy in his prayers night and day (v. 3b). Paul really wanted to be reunited with Timothy, and he also recalls the genuine faith history that was Timothy’s, a faith which dwelt first in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (Cf. Acts 16:1). Paul was persuaded that this same faith that his forefathers had, that he had, and that Timothy’s grandmother and mother had, was also in Timothy (v. 5). It wasn’t just external to Timothy, but this faith was in him, a faith which showed itself in Timothy’s life.

Paul wanted to see Timothy so that tears might be turned into joy (v. 4). Timothy also had a gift for the pastoral ministry, which he received from God when Paul laid hands on him at his ordination (v. 6 Cf. I Tim. 4:14) Paul wanted Timothy to preach and teach with boldness and conviction. The word for fear here denotes cowardice. Paul didn’t want Timothy to be a coward who feared what people would think of him or his message (Cf. Rom. 8:15). “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (v. 7). For this reason Paul was not ashamed of the gospel, because it is “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). We are also given the power to preach this gospel (Cf. Acts 1:8). Furthermore, “the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (I Tim. 1:5). The gospel also gives us a “sound mind,” that is, disciplined or under self-control.