Archives For 2 Timothy

In his concluding words of this letter, Paul asked Timothy to come quickly to visit him in prison because he was well aware that his days were few (4:9). Paul provided Timothy with a couple updates on people who were working alongside him in the ministry. He wrote that Demas had forsaken him “having loved this present world.” Demas had apparently abandoned Paul as the pressure mounted and forsook his friend. Paul had sent Crescens and Titus to minister in different places and only Luke remained with him (4:10-11a). Paul did request that Timothy bring Mark with him “for he is useful to me for ministry.” This is an amazing statement because according to Acts 15:36-41 Paul and Barnabas had a falling out over John Mark. It appears that John Mark had abandoned them earlier and Paul felt Mark was not ready to minister. But in this letter to Timothy, Paul’s heart had changed toward John Mark and he felt that Mark had matured in his faith. Paul gives some other final instructions in his letter to Timothy (4:12-16) and Paul closes his letter with some powerful words. “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” Paul had a life of hardship and persecution, but the Lord sustained Him so that he might be able to spread the gospel to the Gentiles. He was faithful to complete the work entrusted to him by God because he knew he would soon enter into His heavenly kingdom. In essence, Paul was giving testimony of God’s faithfulness to him during his ministry so that Timothy would know that God would also sustain him through much adversity. I guess if there is one overriding message of Paul’s second letter to Timothy it is this – Be faithful to God until the end! We must closely examine our hearts and daily commit to carrying out God’s work. We must never give up. We must never quit. We must be faithful because the glories which await us pale in comparison to what God has in store for those who love Him.

Dear God, help me to be faithful to the end and look forward to eternity with You.

We must keep in mind that one of the big reasons Paul wrote this letter to Timothy was because he was nearing the end of his life and was, in a sense, passing the torch of leadership on to Timothy. If Timothy was to quit or lose heart, Paul’s ministry may not continue into the next generation. Paul’s time was short here on earth and he fully recognized that fact. Paul writes “for I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand” (4:6). However, even though his life was about to come to a close, he was able to reflect back on what God had accomplished through his willingness to be used. His words are strong and an important reminder for all of us to be faithful to God’s purposes until the end: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (4:7). Paul had lived his Christian life as a soldier (one who was not distracted by the world), an athlete (one who did not quit until he had finished God’s will), and a devoted follower of Jesus Christ (one who had obeyed God until the end). Because he was faithful in this life, Paul knew there was a “crown of righteousness” in store for him when he would appear before Jesus Christ (4:8). This crown of righteousness was probably not a literal crown, but rather the future righteousness a believer will receive at Christ’s appearing. This time will signify that our work on earth is done and that we have been granted eternal righteousness – something we have never before experienced. Paul knew the hardships of this life could not compare with the future glory he would experience one day. I believe this attitude is what sustained Paul through many trials. It is as if Paul is trying to challenge Timothy to be faithful to God because eternal life will be the reward which makes all the earthly struggle worth it. Maybe today you want to give up and quit. Just remember that your current hardships are only temporary and God will reward you with eternal righteousness!

Dear God, continue reminding me of the glories which await those who finish faithfully in the work You’ve called them to do. May I be faithful to the end.

Paul feared that Timothy was losing his passion for ministry because of the tremendous pressure coming from false teachers, immature people in the church, and persecutors of the church. Out of concern for Timothy, Paul wrote this letter and challenged him to “stir up the gift of God…for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Instead of fearing people, Paul commanded Timothy to be more concerned about God’s view of him. One day Jesus will “judge the living and the dead at his appearing and His kingdom” (4:1). This was Paul’s way of reminding Timothy that God was watching his ministry and in the future will evaluate him according to his faithfulness. Then, with passion in his pen Paul writes “Preach the word! Be instant in season and out of season” (4:2a). This means he should preach the gospel when it is popular and even when it is not. Preaching was to consist of convincing and rebuking (correcting sinful behavior) as well as exhorting and teaching (instructing in doctrine). Paul warns that the time would come when people will believe false teaching and only desire to hear what makes them feel good (4:2-4). Timothy was to preach the entire word of God without compromise and “be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your [his] ministry” (4:5). It is easier to quit than to continue doing something which is not popular, but Timothy was to be faithful in all things. Even when things got tough, he was to carry on. I believe the command is the same for those who name the name of Jesus Christ – we must faithfully spread the message of salvation to all people, tribes, tongues, and nations. We should not back down. We should not give up but we should be faithful until our work on earth is done!

Dear God, when I feel like quitting remind me of the great responsibility to preach Your word to all those who will hear. Help me never back down or never give up!

Timothy had been facing a lot of pressure from false teachers, haters of Christians, and immature people in the church. It seems that Paul is writing to Timothy in order to challenge him not to quit the ministry. Paul is quick to remind Timothy that he had seen him undergo persecution, but the Lord had delivered him and provided the strength to endure (3:10-11). “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (3:12). Even though the false teachers and evil men continue to “grow worse and worse” Timothy was to “continue in the things which he had learned and been assured of…that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (3:14-15). Timothy had been taught Scripture from a young age giving him a solid foundation of faith in God. Paul as well as Timothy’s family invested much time into teaching him the word of God so that he would become a committed follower of Jesus Christ. A huge emphasis is placed on the strength and power of Scripture. Paul writes what I believe to be some of the most important words in the Bible: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” (3:16). All words in Scripture are inspired, meaning they are God-breathed. So, when Scripture speaks, God speaks (MacArthur Study Bible). This gives the words value and meaning because they are God’s words to human beings. Paul then shows Timothy the value of Scripture – it is profitable for doctrine (what is right), for reproof (what is wrong), for correction (how to get it right), and instruction in righteousness (how to keep it right). In other words, Scripture has all the answers to living and enduring the life to which God has called us. To be a man of God, a man must be a man of the Word. Paul goes on to point out the result of being a man of the Word – “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (3:17). I’m not exactly sure if Timothy had been ignoring the word of God as a result of his ongoing persecution and stress, but it seems as if Paul is urging him to rediscover the power of Scripture in order to become a man of good works. I firmly believe that Scripture is one of the key elements in living a holy life. Ignoring the word of God will leave a person full of their own opinions, ideals, philosophies, and viewpoints but allowing Scripture to influence our daily life will provide the capability to do the will of God.

Dear God, I love Your word. Help me to consistently spend time allowing it to change me into the person You desire me to become.

Paul wanted to remind Timothy that he was living in the “last days.” In this passage, the last days simply point to the time following Jesus’ life here on earth; in other words, we are currently living in the last days before Christ will return in the clouds to remove all Christians from the earth to be with Him. Some refer to the time we are living in as the church age, which implies that the church is responsible to spread the message of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for sin. Whatever we label it, we are living in the last days before God will pour out His wrath upon those who reject salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. An explanation is given to Timothy as to what he can expect in the last days. “In the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (3:3-5). The implication is clear – these characteristics will become worse as time goes on and will define the lives of the people within the culture. This extensive list is frightening when you compare it to the world around us. What is even more alarming is that these character points are defining people who profess a relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul warns Timothy to stay away from anyone who manifests these characteristics because they have a tendency to be vulnerable to the deception of false teachers (3:6-9). Let us be completely aware of the dangerous times we live in and guard against allowing these attitudes.

Dear God, I know we are living in the last days so help me to obey You and guard against the sinful characteristics of the world. May I also keep myself away from the influence of those whose lives are filled with disobedience, rebellion, and sinful habits.

Paul had already used four illustrations to describe the character of the man of God. In the first part of chapter 2 Paul compared the faithful follower of Christ to a soldier (2:3-4), an athlete (2:5), a farmer (2:6-7), and also the perfect example of Jesus Christ (2:8-13). Today, we will take a look at his comparisons with a worker (2:14-19), a vessel (2:20-23), and a servant (2:24-26). First of all, the worker in the kingdom of God is called to abstain from senseless arguing with false teachers (2:14). Timothy, no doubt, had many confrontations with false teachers who were attempting to deceive the church at Ephesus into accepting another gospel, but Paul challenged Timothy not to waste his words on them. Instead, Timothy should “be diligent to present yourself [himself] approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2:15). A man of God should spend more time studying, understanding, and communicating Scripture rather than debating doctrine with false teachers (2:16). Paul even mentioned specific false teachers (Hymenaeus and Philetus) who had spread an erroneous message and confused those in the church (2:17-19). Paul also uses an illustration of vessels of gold/silver and wood/clay. The gold and silver vessels served a greater purpose than the vessels of wood and clay. Gold and silver vessels are used to serve family and guests while wood and clay vessels were used to dispose of trash. A man of God should seek to be a vessel of gold and silver which symbolizes usefulness in the hands of God for His purposes (2:21). We remain useful to God when we continue in the truth and live a life of obedience to His word. Paul challenges Timothy to “flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2:22). The last illustration is a servant (2:24-26). “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition…so that they may know the truth…” (2:24-25). In these illustrations, Paul was urging Timothy to be focused like a worker, clean as a usable vessel, and humble as a servant. Leaders must lead with passion, with purpose, and with purity.

Dear God, help me to be a leader with character and integrity that I may share the gospel with boldness.

Through the end of chapter 2, Paul provides a pattern of the man of God. Using several understandable illustrations, Paul compares the consistent Christian life to a soldier (2:3-4), an athlete (2:5), a farmer (2:6-7), the life of Jesus Christ (2:8-13), a worker (2:14-19), a vessel (2:20-23), and a servant (2:24-26). Today we will look at the first four illustrations. First, Paul compares the man of God to a soldier. Living the Christian life is easily compared to a battle because the follower of Christ is engaged in warfare against Satan and his evil system of values and beliefs. During the time of Paul’s writing, the church was experiencing severe persecution and could likely identify with war. Paul wanted to remind Timothy (and the church) that he was involved in battle and not to allow the actions of the world to cause him to quit (2:3-4). Next, Paul illustrates the faithful Christian life by comparing it to an athlete who “competes according to the rules” (2:5). Scripture is the “rulebook” of life and believers must read and obey it in order to compete properly. In verse 7 Paul illustrates the character of the man of God by examining a farmer. Farmers are universally recognized as hard workers who faithfully do their job with the hope of future harvest. The follower of Christ should not be lazy but rather carry out the work to which God has called him knowing that in the end his work will be rewarded. Of course, Jesus Christ is the best example of a man of God because He became God in human flesh and perfectly lived out the Christian life (2:8-13). Jesus was raised from the dead (2:8) after having suffered death for the sake of sinners. Now Paul was faithful to also preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and he desired Timothy to follow in his steps. Let us never become discouraged to the point of quitting but pray that God gives us strength to fight as the soldier, obey the rules as the athlete, work hard as the farmer, and strive to live holy as Jesus.

Dear God, help me never to quit, but to be faithful to the ministry to which you have called me.

Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:1-2 about what I believe to be one of the weaknesses of the modern-day church…training leaders from the next generation. Paul gives Timothy clear instructions on what he is to do with the truths of Scripture: “…the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2:2). The concept of spiritual reproduction is simple, yet we somehow miss it. The pastor or spiritual leaders of the church are responsible to take the truth they have been given (from the Word of God) and teach it to others. Paul had taught Timothy the truths of Scripture and now Timothy was to teach others in the church at Ephesus who would in turn teach other men. This idea of coming to church every week, listening to the message, and walking away with no action is not what Paul intended. We should willingly receive the truths of Scripture, obey God’s commands, and then encourage others to obey Him also. If the current generation fails to challenge the next generation to obey God, eventually our society will become godless. Parents have a responsibility to pass on the truth to their children, pastors have a responsibility to pass on the truth to their congregation, men have a responsibility to pass on the truth to other men, women have a responsibility to pass on the truth to other women, and students have a responsibility to pass on the truth to their friends. The list could continue but you get the idea – God has given mature Christians the mandate to pass on the truth. Before you think this is just an exchange of information, let me also remind you that the truth must also be demonstrated in lifestyle. The truth of God’s word is just information until we do something with it. God did not mean for us to know all the facts and memorize a bunch of verses, but He intended that the way we think and act be changed. As you have been entrusted with the truth of Scripture, pass it on through instruction and demonstration. When we take this command seriously, it will change the generation to follow.

Dear God, use me to pass on the truth to the next generation.

Timothy was under tremendous pressure from all sides and the church at Ephesus was also a part of this stress. They probably disregarded his leadership because he was young and may have been listening to false teachers who were seeking to undermine Timothy’s doctrine. Rather than stand firm in his faith, Timothy seemed to be weakening under the attacks, but Paul wanted to be sure he did not quit. He wrote “hold fast the pattern of sound doctrine which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing [salvation] which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us” (1:13-14). Of dire concern was Timothy’s belief system (doctrine). Paul had carefully taught Timothy right doctrine, which came directly from God, and he wanted to be certain that he would not compromise his faith. Two men, Phygellus and Hermogenes, had already abandoned Paul in time of opposition and turn their back on their faith (1:15). These men may have been leaders in the church who turned their back on Paul when persecution came their way. Paul did not want Timothy to follow their example, but rather look to Onesiphorus who was a loyal co-laborer with Paul. Onesiphorus did not abandon Paul during the time of persecution, but often visited him in prison and took care of his needs (1:16-18). Through the example of Onesiphorus, Paul was trying to communicate that a person does not have to quit and can be faithful to God’s calling, even when it is not popular. You may be looking around and see very few standing for their faith and living the truth; however, you must remember that you are responsible for your life, not the life of others. People may be waiting for you to stand strong in your beliefs and not compromise with the world around you so they can follow. Be the one who remains faithful to your calling as a Christian and do not abandon the God who has saved you and given you all spiritual blessings through Christ Jesus.

Dear God, help me to stand even when no one else is doing so.

Fearing persecution from the government, pressure from the church, and distraction from false teachers Timothy was weakening in his faith and maybe even contemplating quitting the ministry. Earlier in chapter 1, Paul had written for Timothy not to be consumed with a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of boldness and courage in spreading the message of the gospel. Obviously in the face of intense persecution and even seeing that preaching the gospel had landed Paul in prison, Timothy feared for his own life. I mean, who wouldn’t? No one wants to do something which may have a negative backlash and endanger their very life. But Paul felt as if the message of the gospel was worth laying down his life and he desired Timothy to have the same attitude. Paul writes “do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God” (1:8). In the first century, Christians feared persecution for their faith mostly because they were rejecting the belief system of the culture and trusting in Jesus Christ, but the modern day church (in the United States) knows nothing of this type of persecution…yet we are ashamed of the gospel. Sure, we may be laughed at or mocked for speaking the gospel, but usually there is no fear for our life. Jesus Christ has freely given us salvation (1:9), “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” (1:10) so that we can share the gospel with others. Paul had been “appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles” (1:11) in order to make this message accessible to all. I believe it is also our responsibility to make sure this message is placed into the hands of the next generation who will also faithfully share the truth about Jesus Christ. What made Paul so courageous in sharing his faith? He knew that his life was in God’s hands and would one day experience eternal life with Christ (1:12). There is no need to fear a life that is temporary anyway, so Paul chose to live radically, live passionately, and live faithfully. What about you?

Dear God, I’m not sure why I am so fearful about sharing the life-changing message of the gospel so give me the courage to make my faith public and apologetically share the gospel with others.