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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 in 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.
Questions to Ponder in this Section:
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 the 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?
The Apostle Paul continues his encouragement for Timothy in chapter 2. He loves Timothy. He has poured many hours into Timothy. He wants the best for this young man and sees hardship on the horizon for him. So in chapter 1, he encourages him to remember the eternal life gifted to him through Jesus Christ. He then speaks about endurance in chapter 2.
Timothy endures so that Jesus Christ is declared as risen and therefore is the defeater of sin and death. Jesus offers salvation. The preaching of Jesus’ Gospel offers salvation. The preaching of God’s Word brings salvation. In 2 Timothy 1:12 Paul says he endures because of the Gospel. He states the same reasons here again. Paul reminds the reader (first Timothy and then us) that though the person preaching the Gospel may be imprisoned, the message will not be imprisoned. Though the person preaching might suffer hardship, the message will never suffer defeat.
The reason is that Christ is the message!
The most basic message of Paul: “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8, NIV1984).
Paul adds then the trustworthy saying of verses 11-13. Perhaps it was an early church song or poetry written by believers: “If we died with him, we will also live with him. If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself” (NET).
The saying is in line with how the letter to Timothy began in chapter 1. Remember, 1:9 states that before the ages began the faithful God assured the continuation of life for humanity by way of His steadfast nature. God is the source of life. This is the story told in the gospels directing us to Jesus Christ… the way of eternal life. This means that our lives should be lived within the context of Jesus Christ if we want to continue to live. We will only continue to live if we have faith in Jesus and partake in the life He gives. We must live faithfully reflecting God’s glorious nature or we will fade away. This means we are to be vessels that rid ourselves of sin and fill ourselves with Christ (not us, but He does this in us).
We fill up with Him by building ourselves morally.
We fill up with Him by prizing submission over personal gain.
We fill up with Him by cherishing blessing over being blessed.
All of this is given to God’s chosen people. Questions to Ponder: What minor things of this life distract us from eternal life with God? (check out verses 16-26)
Look over chapter 2…
What are the characteristics or Godly traits we should move towards?
How can I endure hardship and remain strong in faith?
2 Timothy 2:1-7 is a powerful passage about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul wants to impress on Timothy how important following Jesus Christ really is. Paul wants to give Timothy words to anchor his soul when Paul is gone from this life. In this passage, we are given three pictures of what it looks like to be a disciple of Jesus. The Apostle Paul pictures for us the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer.
Paul mentions two things about soldiers that relate very well to being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
SOLDIERS ENDURE HARDSHIP
Paul tells Timothy that part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is enduring hardship. For the Apostle Paul, he assumes that following Jesus will include hardship. He thinks and believes that this is a “given” for hardship to come spiritually, emotionally, and physically. How do I know that? Paul writes about it elsewhere.
Romans 8:35-37 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
1 Thessalonians 2:8-9 says, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. 9 Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.”
Over and over again Paul links spiritual struggle, emotional attack, struggles mentally, various woes, and physical hardship with being a real follower of Jesus. Keep in mind Paul is only echoing what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:11, Matthew 5:44, Luke 21:12, and John 15:18-20.
Why is hardship assumed when it comes to faith in Jesus Christ?
Following Jesus is the narrow road and most people take the wide road.
Following Jesus is walking in the light in the midst of a world that wants to be dark and stay dark.
Following Jesus is stepping holy steps forward in an unholy world that only goes backward.
Following Jesus is submission to God-rule instead of self-rule.
SOLDIERS PLEASE THE COMMANDER
Paul tells Timothy that part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is pleasing the commander. What pleases the commanding officer? Following orders. Taking initiative. Upholding the values of a soldier. Achieving victory. I can summarize all of that in my own mind by saying what pleases the commander in an army is the soldier being the best soldier they can possibly be.
As I was thinking about this, I wondered… what pleases my commander? What pleases God? What pleases my King of King and Lord of Lords? I looked up the word “pleases” “pleased” and “pleasing” in the Bible and found verses that directly relate to what pleases God. There are some verses that say “do what pleases God,” but those verses do not answer my question exactly because I want to know directly what pleases God! Are there verses in the Bible that say what direct thing, actions, or attitudes God is pleased with? I am sure you and I can agree that God is pleased with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control when it comes from His people… but is there something specific? Is there something specific the Bible says pleases God our Commander?
There are four things actually that the Bible states directly that God is pleased with. May I submit to you this morning that if God is pleased with these actions and attitudes, you and I as soldiers under His command need to be all over these things. This is what should mark a disciple.
First, God is pleased when children obey their parents. Colossians 3:20 says, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Children that obey parents and honor them are people who are doing what the Bible directly states pleases God. God has set up an order in the family in terms of obedience in the family: God, Parents, then Children. When God’s plan for the family is followed, God is pleased.
Second, God is pleased with integrity. 1 Chronicles 29:17 King David says, “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.” Integrity is doing what is right when it hurts and when no one is looking. Integrity is God is pleased when truthfulness permeates all parts of our being. When we are people of integrity, God is pleased.
Third, God is pleased when we pray to Him. Proverbs 15:8 says, “The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him” and 1 Timothy 2:1-3 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior.” Prayer from His people pleases Him. Communication about our hearts, our lives, and our desires please Him. Praying for our country and leaders pleases Him. Praying so that we live in peace, godliness, and holiness pleases Him.
Fourth, God is pleased when we do good and share with others. I know that sounds a little bit like a kindergarten lesson, but you know what they say, “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.” Hebrews 13:16 says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” God is pleased when we do good and put others first in our lives. It pleases Him when we sacrifice and put others first. When we are people who sacrificially love others, God is pleased.
Paul continues and speaks about athletes.
CHRISTIANS ARE COMMITTED TO SELF-DISCIPLINE
In the Apostle Paul’s day, athletes were highly respected. In fact, in the writings of Paul in the New Testament, he makes references to athletes or sports more than twenty times. In Paul’s writings overall, he uses the athlete to highlight self-control and determination. When he thinks of perseverance, he thinks of an athlete.
In verse 5, Paul says that an athlete cannot receive victory unless they follow the rules. What is he talking about? In Paul’s day, before athletic games, there were many rules and oaths athletes would adhere to. Not following rules means no competing. That is why in 1 Corinthians 9:27 Paul says, “No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” An athlete had to be self-disciplined or they could not even compete for the prize.
The Apostle Paul knows that the Christian life is one that requires faith, but also requires us to be self-disciplined and self-controlled. Self can definitely get in the way of being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. Self can get in the way of us faithfully living for Jesus Christ.
Paul says elsewhere in 2 Timothy: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (1:7).
Paul tells the Thessalonians: “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).
Paul tells Titus: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” (Titus 2:11-12).
In verse 5 of this chapter and in many of his other letters, the Apostle Paul set’s up the truth that being a disciple of Jesus Christ takes self-discipline, self-control, and determination to be successful and deeply faithful.
Paul continues in the examples and looks at farmers.
There are two applications for this particular verse about farmers and crops. The first is an application about disciples of Jesus and the expectations of being a good disciple. The other application has to do with people who are working full-time for the Gospel and how they should be paid. As a full-time evangelist, this makes sense for Paul and Timothy to talk about. It is the first application that we are focusing on today.
The keyword in this verse is the word “hardworking.” I hope it makes sense that only a farmer who works the land, toils the field, and keeps equipment working is a farmer that has a crop to harvest. The principle is that hard work in the ground produces a harvest. We see this principle not just here, but in other passages as well.
Genesis 3:17-19 says, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Since sin entered into the world, farming is a hard task. The ground does not always cooperate. The weather is not always conducive to growing. Most of the time hard work brings harvest.
Proverbs 20:4 says, “A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.” Again, the Bible tells us that planning, working the ground, and planting seeds produce a crop. In Proverbs, King Solomon points out that if you do nothing, you get nothing. That principle is true in many aspects of life:
Finance: A person that invests nothing gets a goose egg and not a nest egg.
Family: A family that ignores each other ends up being strangers.
Work: A person who does not work diligently will be fired and have no job.
Sports: A person who does not practice will lose every game or be cut from the team.
Diet: A person who eats what they want and does not exercise will lose no weight.
Farming: A farmer who does nothing with the land will go out at harvest time and find empty fields.
Being a Christian is not just floating through life with God working for us. Rather, it is us working for God. It is possible to have the attitude, “I’ve become a Christian in order to get God to bless me, and work for me. If he doesn’t do it the way I want, I’m out.” That is the very attitude the Apostle Paul is warning against. Being a Christian takes a lifetime of faithfulness. A Christian is called upon to reprogram the computers of our mind to think differently than the world. That is not accomplished easily. It takes hours of reading the Bible and studying the Bible until you see life the way God sees it.
The Apostle Paul begins chapter 3 by referencing “the last days.” This begs the question… Does Paul expect Timothy to be someone living under the opposition spoke of in Scripture? It is quite possible. Paul was always expecting Christ to return even though he counseled wisdom in such matters (1 and 2 Thessalonians).
Paul is speaking to Timothy and telling him what to look for in the world while he is waiting for Jesus to return (“the last days”). The list of characteristics in verses 2-7 is quite a list! He is to watch for those who claim to follow God but live differently than he was shown. He will be mixing with these folks and he should be aware. Paul wants Timothy to know what is true and teach it. More importantly… Paul wants Timothy to live his faith and to endure whatever opposition comes because of his faith in Christ.
Timothy in these verses is given details on how to structure his way of life and what to look for in those that will stray. Others may not “stray” so much as they are simply evil and will have influence with people around them.
Paul emphasizes leaning into godly living during persecution.
The Apostle Paul seems to lump together evil folks, charlatans (those who appear as believers but are not), and deceivers (those who appear as believers but are not on purpose). In the face of these types of folks, Paul tells Timothy to stick to the Word. If Timothy sticks to the Word and what he has learned thus far, then in the midst of hard persecution he will endure.
Deceivers, Paul states, want to be deceived themselves in order to hold on to their pleasures. Thus, their hearts and minds are dangerous. Though they appear religious, they in fact want pleasures and seek to fill their desires. They are no different than Adam and Eve who ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What was good in their eye is what they were after… same with these folks. They want to be blessed, yet they don’t listen to God.
So, such people find teachers that say what they want to hear. Those deceiving teachers say they can have what their eye desires rather than what God says is good. I might add God, says He is good. We reflect God through good works as we acknowledge Him in our daily actions. Paul tells us to aim our actions based on Scripture.
In the end, he tells Timothy to hold fast to the word of God. Holding fast to the Scriptures is the one trustworthy means of living life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. By way of the word, Timothy can guide and direct himself and others. He can be rebuked by God and honor God and the same goes for people around him. He can help others and himself conform to the living way of King Jesus.
In chapter four Paul states “I solemnly charge you.” Those are heavy words meaning “take this seriously.”
Timothy is to take seriously that he will be judged by his preaching the message… even if it is troublesome to do so. A time would come when people caught up in the world would not listen to God’s truth. I take it Paul thinks it will be in Timothy’s life (or perhaps for those that Timothy teaches) when people will not listen to the true word of God.
Paul knows his days are numbered. He knows with his death others will move in to fill the void of his earthly presence. Nevertheless, Paul tells Timothy his authority is in the Word of God. He is to abide in nothing other than the Word. He is to tell others to do the same.
Therefore, those who seek a pleasure-filled lifestyle will follow false teachings. Those that long for the appearance of Jesus will follow God’s Word as passed on to all through the apostles such as Paul.
What about you?