2 Timothy 2 - Grace In Christ Strengthens Us

INTRODUCTION: Paul placed emphasis on the role that Timothy should take to prepare faithful men to carry on the work of preaching and teaching the Word of God to others. Timothy had learned much about the gospel as he traveled with Paul to establish churches in many cities, and he had been in leadership at Ephesus for a period of years by the time Paul wrote this second letter. It was important to prepare others to faithfully and competently deliver the gospel message to successive generations.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the World English Bible.


A - BE STRENGTHENED IN THE GRACE THAT IS IN CHRIST

2 Timothy 2 "1 You therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit the same to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier on duty entangles himself in the affairs of life, that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier. 5 Also, if anyone competes in athletics, he isn't crowned unless he has competed by the rules. 6 The farmers who labour must be the first to get a share of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things."

COMMENTS: Since Paul was confident that Christ was able to "guard" the work of ministry that Paul had "committed" to him, he wanted Timothy to have the same confidence as he ministered in the faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. Timothy could guard the pattern of sound words through the power of the Holy Spirit that was within him as he was strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Timothy had heard Paul's teaching among many witnesses over a significant period of time, and now Paul wanted Timothy to likewise pass these things on to other faithful men so the preaching of the good news about Christ would be perpetuated to future generations.

Paul wanted to stress the importance of staying faithful in preaching the Word as long as the Lord provided strength for the ministry, especially noting that Timothy must be prepared to endure hardships. He used several familiar examples to illustrate the connection between a given pursuit and the reward for following each one in the most appropriate manner. The man whose occupation is to faithfully minister to others for the Lord should receive compensation for his service, and minimize his involvement in other pursuits. Timothy was familiar with the ministry Paul had to the Corinthians, and Paul had written to them as follows. 1 Corinthians "7 What soldier ever serves at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, and doesn't eat of its fruit? Or who feeds a flock, and doesn't drink from the flock's milk? 8 Do I speak these things according to the ways of men? Or doesn't the law also say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it for the oxen that God cares, 10 or does he say it assuredly for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake, because he who ploughs ought to plough in hope, and he who threshes in hope should partake of his hope. 11 If we sowed to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your fleshly things?" Paul wants the shepherd of a spiritual flock to have no hesitation to receive compensation from that flock, nor for any in the flock to dispute the scriptural validity of giving said compensation.


B - REMEMBER JESUS CHRIST RISEN FROM THE DEAD

2 Timothy 2 "8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my Good News, 9 in which I suffer hardship to the point of chains as a criminal. But God's word isn't chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the chosen ones' sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 This saying is faithful: "For if we died with him, we will also live with him. 12 If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us. 13 If we are faithless, he remains faithful. He can't deny himself."

COMMENTS: Paul spoke of his own hardship of being in chains like a criminal because he was a minister for Christ. He stressed the significance to remember that Jesus, the promised Messiah, rose from the dead. In the humanity of Jesus he was a descendent of King David to take the eternal throne as promised in the Old Testament scripture . The fulfillment of scripture in Christ Jesus was the good news preached by Paul. The restraints or hardships on a preacher of the Word does not hinder the power of the Word of God. Since Paul firmly believed this, he was willing to endure all things for the sake of those chosen by God to receive salvation in Christ and obtain the benefit of eternal glory, through the spread of the gospel which cannot be chained.

Paul said it is true and we can have complete faith that if we have died with Christ, then we also will live with him. This is a saying that can be passed on to others with complete confidence if they have believed (died to self) in Christ. Paul wrote this in Romans 6, "5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection; 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 But if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him; 9 knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no more has dominion over him!" And if we endure the difficulties of this life through the faith that is sure in Christ , we will be with him for eternal life. If we deny him, he will deny us before the Father. Matthew 10 "32 Everyone therefore who confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven 33 But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven." If we are without saving faith in this life, the Lord will remain faithful to save those who believe, and reject those who do not believe, because he cannot deny himself.

C - PROPERLY HANDLE THE WORD OF TRUTH

2 Timothy 2 "14 Remind them of these things, charging them in the sight of the Lord, that they don't argue about words, to no profit, to the subverting of those who hear. 15 Give diligence to present yourself approved by God, a workman who doesn't need to be ashamed, properly handling the Word of Truth. 16 But shun empty chatter, for it will go further in ungodliness, 17 and those words will consume like gangrene, of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 men who have erred concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past, and overthrowing the faith of some."

COMMENTS: As Paul had prepared Timothy and other men over the years to follow his pattern of sound doctrine, he urges Timothy to make this an important goal as part of his ministry to those within his sphere of influence. they will need to be reminded of the doctrines Paul has taught Timothy. He should warn new teachers that it can be harmful and subversive to the faith of those who hear unnecessary arguments over words that are used in the discussion of scripture. If we take to heart what Paul has told Timothy, and consider any admonition we give to others as being done in the presence of the Lord, we will be less likely to allow our words to be spoken out of pride. A skilled workman is very familiar with his tools and the most effective ways to use them. Paul wants this to be the approach taken by all who desire to share the Word of God with others. Talking beyond what is necessary becomes empty chatter, and it will lead to many types of error about the truth of scripture. Paul names Hymenaeus and Philetus as two who have certainly erred by saying that the resurrection has already taken place; and this has been very injurious to the faith of others.


D - GOD'S FIRM FOUNDATION STANDS

2 Timothy 2 "19 However God's firm foundation stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness." 20 Now in a large house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of clay. Some are for honour, and some for dishonour. 21 If anyone therefore purges himself from these, he will be a vessel for honour, sanctified, and suitable for the master's use, prepared for every good work."

COMMENTS: Despite the effects of the two named by Paul, he reassures Timothy that there is a much stronger force protecting the believer than any attack made through distortions of the truth. The foundation of faith is Christ Jesus and the many truths about him as written by his prophets and apostles. The apostle Paul wrote these things in two other letters. 1 Corinthians 3 "11 For no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ." Ephesians 2 "19 So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, 20 being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone; 21 in whom the whole building, fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit." That firm foundation stands for each one who has been called by the Lord to believe, and there is no possibility of falling from that foundation.

The proof of the firm foundation for the believer is that the Lord knows those who are his, and Jesus expressed that fact in this manner. John 10 "14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I'm known by my own; 15 even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd. 17 Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down by myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. I received this commandment from my Father." The security in Christ is clearly stated a few verses later. John 10 "26 But you don't believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I told you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one."

The second mark or seal of the firm foundation in Christ is that his chosen ones withdraw and refrain from wrongdoing and injustice. Paul illustrates that each believer must purge out unrighteous acts to be like the vessels in a large house that are designated for honorable use. This is required to properly make ready and separate the believer for the Master's use, prepared for every good work.


E - PURSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS, FAITH, LOVE, AND PEACE

2 Timothy 2 "22 Flee from youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But refuse foolish and ignorant questionings, knowing that they generate strife. 24 The Lord's servant must not quarrel, but be gentle towards all, able to teach, patient, 25 in gentleness correcting those who oppose him: perhaps God may give them repentance leading to a full knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may recover themselves out of the devil's snare, having been taken captive by him to his will."

COMMENTS: It is not enough just to firmly withdraw from worldly lusts and refrain from reentering them; it is necessary to take positive action for the Lord. The believer must pursue (actively seek to capture) righteousness , faith, and love to be prominently evident in their personality. Peace is an important aspect of relationship among believers who want to nurture a pure heart for God. Those who teach the Word should graciously reject questions that reflect a lack of good sense or judgment, misinformation, or incomplete learning from scripture. Such questions can easily generate strife or controversy. the Lord's servant must not engage in an angry dispute or argument. It is good to remember Proverbs 15 "1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." The proper attitude is to be gentle towards all, able to teach, and patient. If those who oppose a point of teaching are corrected with a considerate and amiable disposition, the Lord may guide them to change in their heart and be led to a more complete knowledge of the truth. By this they may then escape the devil's snare as he desires to take captives to his will in opposition to God.


--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I ask that you strengthen me by your Spirit that is in me through your grace, to enable me to guard the pattern of sound doctrine that you taught, and that the prophets and apostles recorded in your Holy Word. I want to lift up your Word in my thoughts and before others without any hesitation even if hardships come my way. I believe you came in the flesh as a descendent of King David as promised by the writing of the prophets, and your resurrection from the grave verified that you have overcome sin for all who place their faith in you, the eternal King. Your Word Lord cannot be held back from accomplishing your predetermined purposes. Guide me Lord to carefully consider the scriptures, and especially to avoid unnecessary and empty discussion or writing which may cloud the truth it contains. I know I need your guidance in this matter, and I know you are able to help others to avoid any way in which I might be unintentionally subverting their faith with the way I handle scripture. Your firm foundation is the protection for those you have chosen to be part of your kingdom. I want to purge myself of any unrighteousness so I will be a vessel for honour, sanctified, and suitable for the master's use, prepared for every good work. I want to allow your righteousness to grow within me in every way as you open my heart to increase my faith in you, my love for others, and whatever I should do to promote peace within the body of Christ. Amen.

Published 16 November 2013