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2 Timothy: Chapter 2, part 1

May 12, 2010

2Ti 2:1  You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2Ti 2:2  And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

In chapter 2, Paul continued urging Timothy to be faithful in the face of persecution.  In contrast to some others Paul had just mentioned in the first chapter, he wanted Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

At this point Paul began to introduce a new aspect of his concern related to the persecution.  It wasn’t just about Timothy.  Paul wanted to be sure the church was in good hands after he was gone.  He had just told Timothy about some trusted men who had deserted him as the risk of Roman execution increased.  So he urged Timothy to entrust the gospel to reliable [Gk pistos, faithful] men who would be able to teach others also. He didn’t want the leaders of the church to run and hide when the heat was turned up.

Paul urged Timothy to be faithful in enduring hardship with us. One can only wonder, who was this “us?”  Was Onesiphorus in prison with Paul now?  Is that why he mentioned the welfare of the household of Onesiphorus (2 Tim 1:16, 4:19).  Or were there others close to Paul who were also waiting on “death row?”  In any case, that is what Timothy must be willing to do if he were to endure hardship “with us.”

Paul then presented three brief parables about faithfulness for Timothy to ponder:

1) The soldier

2Ti 2:3  Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
2Ti 2:4  No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer.

Being a faithful servant of Christ is like being a good soldier. The NIV translation “civilian affairs” is unfortunate here. More true to the Greek is the ASV: “No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of this life.”  He could not love this life and be a faithful servant of Jesus.   To be faithful, Timothy must have only one agenda: that of his Lord. There could be no excuses for shrinking back from preaching the whole gospel, including the unpopular parts.

2) The athlete

2Ti 2:5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.

Here the athlete is the Lord’s servant, and the crown is eternal life. The rules are to be faithful. If Timothy were to shrink back, he would forfeit the crown.

3) The farmer

2Ti 2:6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.

The point here is that Timothy should work hard now,to receive the reward later. Now is the time for work. Rewards come when the work is done.

Jesus also taught a parable on this topic:

Mat 24:45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?
Mat 24:46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.
Mat 24:47 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
Mat 24:48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’
Mat 24:49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.
Mat 24:50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.
Mat 24:51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Being a hardworking farmer was not just a good idea. It would make the difference between heaven and hell. He must be faithful to the calling he received.

Paul reminded Timothy once again about what faithfulness was costing himself.

2Ti 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel,
2Ti 2:9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.
2Ti 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Paul endured faithfully, for the sake of the elect. The message was clear: Timothy must endure with the same kind of faithfulness.

Paul then wrote what must have become a hymn in the early church:

2Ti 2:11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;
2Ti 2:12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;
2Ti 2:13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

The hymn speaks for itself. The poignant words expressed everything about what Paul was thinking, praying, and meditating as he sat in prison. Would Paul acknowledge his faith in Jesus before the authorities at his execution? Or would he disown Jesus to save his own neck? His reward hung in the balance. Paul knew what he would do. In a very short while he would die with Jesus, and then would live with Jesus. The soon-to-be martyr urged Timothy to have the faith to do the same.

One can only imagine congregations singing this hymn with tears after learning of Paul’s execution… and then of Peter’s… and of countless others from week to week. I doubt they were in any mood to quarrel about words.

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