Be an Example to Others. 2 Timothy 2:1-26
My Son Timothy: 2 Timothy 2:1.
In this chapter Paul gives seven powerful illustrations to explain Christian life and service. Paul calls Timothy the affectionate term, "My child". Timothy was a son in faith. Paul exhorts Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Timothy had already experienced God's grace in his salvation but he still needs to grow in that grace. Paul wants him to be faithful in the stewardship of the Word of God. In his first epistle Paul already mentioned about the importance of it (1 Timothy 4:13-16). The stewardship of the Word of God has been committed to all Christians. All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable. Paul exhorts Timothy to be the guardian of the truth by holding on to it. It cannot be done in a legalistic way but in faith and in love in Christ Jesus (1:13). Faith describes the God-ward aspect of what we believe. Love describes the man-ward aspect of our commitment to God and his Word.
Be Strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus: 2 Timothy 2:2
Paul exhorts Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Timothy had already experienced God's grace in his salvation. The grace is a continual source in his life and ministry (Hebrew 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:10). From the fullness of Christ's grace, we receive grace upon grace (John 1:16). God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). We need to grow in the grace of God (2 Peter 3:18). God's grace, forgives us, purifies us, helps us, comforts us and enables us. Timothy heard the truth from many faithful men. Paul exhorts Timothy to commit the truth as a sacred trust to reliable people who will be able to pass them on to others. Four generations, Paul, Timothy, faithful men and others are included in the transmission of the Word of God here. Truth is always secured by its faithful transmission to the next generation. The Holy Spirit raises teachers in the churches (Acts 13). We need faithful and committed men to teach the Word of God. Unfortunately there are not many teachers available to teach younger generations today. Many able teachers are engaged in itinerant teaching commitment. Public ministry is good but not enough. Paul taught Ephesians believers in public places as well as from house to house (Acts 20:20). God has entrusted the truth with us to make disciples for Christ.
Endure Hardship as a Good Soldier of Jesus Christ: 2 Timothy 2:3, 4.
Paul wants Timothy to be strong in grace to endure hardship as a good soldier. Christians are not in a playground but on the battlefield. Timothy was exhorted to endure suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. All Christians are called to serve Christ. They must be devoted to God. They do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). They are engaged in spiritual warfare. Timothy is on active duty and the warfare is real. He must be in a constant state of readiness to defend the gospel. He was trained to be a good soldier of Christ. He is not allowed to engage with the ordinary affairs of this life. He should not be distracted by ordinary affairs of life. The commitment of a Roman soldier to the army was absolute. A soldier is expected to obey instantly and without questioning. We are called to serve under Lord Jesus Christ. There is no spare time for soldiers. Christian service is a lifetime commitment. They are not exempted from hardship. God is looking for committed servants.
Be a Disciplined Athlete: 2 Timothy 2:5.
Here, Paul changes the metaphor from a soldier to an athlete who competes in a game. He cannot win the prize unless he is trained and obeys the rules of the game. An athlete is focused on winning the game. So it is in Christian service. They are running in a spiritual marathon. Many are disqualified because of lack of discipline. It is not enough to train hard and long but it is also important to run lawfully to win the race. God is not only interested in the end result but also how it is done. Many Christians learn this principle in the hard way. So let us strive lawfully to win the crown (1 Corinthians 9:27). God calls the fouls real close when we break the rules. Paul exhorts Christians to finish well and win the race (4:7). Those who win the race will receive a warm welcome to the Kingdom of God (2 Peter 1:11).
Be a Hard Working Farmer: 2 Timothy 2:6.
A believer is not only a good soldier and a disciplined athlete but also a hard working farmer. This speaks of Christian diligence in service. Farmers work hard and long when others are sleeping. They are diligent and not lazy. They reap the fruit of their labor first. They are the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Paul wrote this to encourage Timothy because he was engaged in hard labor. Many people get worn out and discouraged in the Christian ministry. We may get weary in the ministry but should never get weary of serving Christ. The great commission is to evangelize and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus said the harvest is plentiful and the labors are few. Witnessing is not the ministry of few. Some may plant but others harvest.(John 4:35; Acts 8). These days evangelism has taken a back seat in the church. It seems like we have lost sight of the purpose for which we have been left here. We must never lose sight of the great commission. All our ministries must have an evangelistic purpose. Timothy is exhorted here to consider his responsibilities. Those who labor for Christ will be rewarded. We are God's fellow workers (1 Corinthians 3:9). Paul prays that the Lord would give Timothy understanding in all these things. Only by God’s grace, we would serve God diligently.
Christ is our supreme example: 2 Timothy 2:7-13.
Paul exhorts Timothy to remember Jesus Christ (2:8). Christ is the supreme example of faithful service. He wants Timothy to remember two things. Jesus is the risen Savior. This speaks of the power of the gospel (Ephesians 1:19-20). Secondly Jesus is the seed of David. This speaks of Jesus' lineage and the faithfulness of the Scripture (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Jesus was delivered for our sins and raised from the dead for our justification (Romans 4:25). This was the gospel Paul preached. There is great encouragement in remembering what Christ has done for us. He entered the glory through suffering. God did not promise freedom from suffering but promised to preserve us by his presence. Paul was suffering as a common criminal but he was rejoicing because he was suffering for the sake of the elect. His goal was the salvation of sinners. Paul says "I am bound with chains as a criminal but the Word of God is not bound" (2:9). Men may suffer and die but the gospel will triumph. God is sovereign and those who are saved are saved by His grace. Those who are lost are lost by their willful choice. Paul was willing to endure hardship to encourage other believers (Philippians 1:12-14). Christians are not fighting for victory but from victory. Verse 11 is the fourth faithful saying in Paul’s letter to Timothy. Here we see the great doctrine of Christ's death on our behalf and our identification with his death and resurrection. If we endure hardship for Christ, we will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12). Someone has said "If Christ is God and died for us, then no sacrifice we make would ever be too great". If we deny Him, He also will deny us (Matthew 10:32-33). This may be a reference to apostates. Their denial of Jesus is permanent and habitual (1 John 2:19). Even though we become faithless God remains faithful. This gives comfort to all those who endure hardship for the gospel (2 Timothy 2:13).
Worker Approved by God: 2 Timothy 2:14-15.
The servants of God do not fight over words (2:14). Do not waste time debating over the technical meaning of words when souls are perishing. Such arguments are useless and they can ruin the listeners. Timothy must handle God's Word properly, correctly explaining the Word of truth. He should seek the approval of God rather than men (2:15). Paul places the responsibility on Timothy to be diligent in the study of the Word of God rather than someone to spoon feed him. Here, study means to give diligence or to exert oneself. Approval means one has been put to the test and measures up to the test. It certainly takes diligent study to rightly divide the Word of truth. It means to cut in a straight line. This term was used to describe the dividing of sacrifice with precision by priests. The purpose of study is to seek God’s approval and not to please people. There must be accuracy, clarity, relevance and simplicity in the interpretation of the Word of God. Ministry must focus toward the spiritual needs of believers and not wants.
God’s Truth Stands Firm: 2 Timothy 2:16-19.
Many Christians are content with shallow teaching and feel good study of the scriptures. This can lead to ungodliness and foolish behavior (2:16). What we need today is the clear and plain exposition of the Word of God that transforms life. Here Paul compares false teaching to cancer that spreads rapidly to death. Two men are mentioned whose teachings have corrupted the local church. They failed to handle the Word of God correctly. Perhaps they have spiritualized the resurrection and scoffed at the idea of literal resurrection. If false doctrines are allowed to spread, it will affect the whole church. Men may fail but God’s truth stands firm and sure. The Lord knows those who are His, the genuine from the spurious. The good shepherd knows his own sheep and they shall never perish (John 10:27, 28). To the lost Jesus would say” I never knew you, depart from me” (Matthew 7:23). All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil (2:19). Timothy had the responsibility to guard God's people against false teachers.
Vessel of Honor: 2 Timothy 2:20-22.
In the church of God there are true believers and professing Christians. Timothy had to guard believers from false teachers by handling God's Word correctly. He must also live a life that reflects his godly character (2:22-23). Timothy was instructed to separates himself from false teachers. Then he will become a vessel of honor. God will use only those who have a clean hand and pure heart (Psalms 24:4). Someone has said “Giftedness is not the qualification for usefulness but a devoted heart towards Christ” (2 Chronicle 16:9). He must be a man of the Book, prepared for every good works and available at all times to be used by God. Paul exhorts Timothy to flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. He should associate with those who call on the Lord with pure heart. Your association shows who you are. Timothy was young and had to be separated from the temptations of the lust of the flesh, the lust of eye and pride of life. A servant of God must run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Someone has said” Make sure what you are running from and what you are running to and who you are running with”. We all stumble in many things and should deal with our sin immediately (James 3:2; 1 John 1:9). Without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).
Servant must be Kind and Patient: 2 Timothy 2:23-26.
Paul warns Timothy to avoid foolish questions because they will lead to quarrel. A servant of God must not engage in argument with emotion. In argument there is more heat than light. We must be content for the truth and should not quarrel about it (Jude 3). We should speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). The Lord’s servant must be gentle with those who oppose the truth and be patient with those who are slow to understand (1 Peter 3:15). God may perhaps grant them repentance and they believe the truth. Repentance means, change of mind from falsehood to the truth of God. The Lord will forgive those who come to him in repentance and faith in Christ. Unbelievers and false teachers are under the grip of Satan. We should gently instruct them so that they may learn the truth. Perhaps God will set them free from the grip of Satan and come to the understanding of the truth. Jesus is able to rescue them from self destruction (2 Timothy 2:25-26). Pray that we don't harbor hatred towards those who oppose the gospel. Remember that God’s mercy is the only reason we are not opposed to the gospel now. Unless we minister to others in love all our efforts are empty.