A Bit About Immortality

2 Timothy 1:1-18    

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,  2 To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.  3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.  4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.  5 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.  6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.  8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,  9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life– not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,  10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.  12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.  13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you– guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.  15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.  16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.  17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.  18 May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus. 

The Apostle Paul is writing to his “son” in faith (meaning Paul led him to Christ) and wants to impart wisdom to him that will carry him through some of the situations he will face.  Paul does not talk about theology or points of knowledge that are useless, but rather are based on things that give Timothy confidence in his faith and in his work.  In verse 6, the reminder is not theoretical, but a practical command to “fan the flame” of the faith and gifts God has given Timothy.  Paul does not want his fire (desire or intensity) to wane for Christ. 

There is a theological gem found in verses 9-11.  Paul explains to Timothy (or more probably reminds Timothy of the truths he already knows) that Jesus Christ existed before time and all things came from Him.  Jesus has always acted in a life-giving manner.  In fact, the Gospel of John says the same things poetically, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2 He was with God in the beginning.  3 Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3, NIV1984).   

The life giving nature of Jesus did not stop once He became a human being.  When God became Jesus of Nazareth of the Scriptures, He continued to provide life.  In fact, He became the only way of life in God.  In perspective, God the Father brought life to humanity.  Jesus the Son brought immortality to humanity.   

God Himself came and successfully lived as a human being. Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, lived as a human and revealed the means for “continuance” (eternal life) by imaging God in the flesh, So, showing His divine nature to humanity. He infused humanity with His divine nature forever and in so doing condemned sin and defeated death. Jesus was a human found to be without sin. Therefore, under His Lordship, He has brought immortal life to us (the Apostle John calls it ‘light’ in John 1:4). Through the risen Christ immortality is possible… but only in Him.

The word “immortality” (verse 10) (Greek – ‘aphtharsia’) is only used five times in the New Testament. When   used, it is always about what God possesses and/or what Christ possesses.  As in 1 Corinthians 15, immortality is shared with those that are in submission to Christ.  We cannot find where ‘aphtharsia’ is shared with freewill creatures not in submission to Christ.  Accordingly, immortality is His alone to share with whom He judges worthy.   

The worthy are repentant. 

The worthy are contrite souls following the Gospel. 

The worthy are those who believe the Gospel of Christ. 

Romans 2 reminds us who those are that are assured of having eternal life… those who have faith in Christ.  Faith in Christ is the condition.  Romans 2:5-7 says, “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.  6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”  7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (NIV1984).   

Timothy is following in Paul’s footsteps in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ that gives eternal life.  This has led to suffering for the Apostle Paul (verse 12).  It will lead to suffering for Timothy as well so he needs to be firm in the “pattern of sound words” he’s learned so he will persevere.  The end result of his preaching well and remaining in faith is eternal life in God. 

It is most definitely the same for us. 

BMD

Questions to Ponder: 

God is the source of all life and through Jesus Christ we can have eternal life.  Based on this theological fact, how much should we trust in God’s way of living? 

What does it look like for you to increase your level of belief in the Gospel to ensure you follow proper patterns of faith you have been taught? 

What does “God gives me eternal life” mean when daily living is hard or tedious or painful? 

How do you live (what actions) show that you are ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? 

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