Thursday, July 16, 2015

Reading Through 2nd Timothy

51Tk81jYk L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I am continuing to read through the New Testament accompanied by the commentary series The Bible Speaks Today, edited by John R. W. Stott. This post quotes from the book Guard the Gospel the Message of 2 Timothy, written by John Stott. My analysis of 2 Timothy is below along with quotes from the commentary. Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I post quotes from these commentaries on my Facebook page and periodic summaries of the commentary here on my blog. I welcome discussion on these post on my Facebook page. As always, quotes from the author are in blue font.

The letter was possibly written from a Roman prison during Paul‘s final imprisonment. Timothy was still in Ephesus where Paul had left him to provide pastoral leadership. The reference to Tychicus (4:12) and Onesiphorus (1:18) in Ephesus would imply that Timothy was there too. Troas (4:13) would have been on the normal route from Ephesus to Rome. This is a very personal letter from a spiritual father to his spiritual son. It is full of 1st person references and other personal references which correspond to the life of Paul. In many ways, 2 Timothy is Paul‘s last will and testament as it alternates between pessimism about circumstances to optimism because of God’s promises.

Paul wrote to encourage Timothy to endurance, courage and faith in his ministry and to take a stand against false doctrine. He wanted to instruct Timothy to pass the faith on to the next generation by training leaders and to summon Timothy to Rome to visit him before he was killed. He encouraged Timothy that ministry for Christ requires hard work, difficult service and painful endurance but the reward is worth it! The Message of 2 Timothy is "Endure in loyalty to the Lord and to His people, in faithful hard-working ministry despite difficulties, and in resisting false teachers, because the Lord will reward you in his Kingdom."

First Paul encouraged Timothy to be loyal to God, the gospel, good doctrine and to those who minister to you. He thanked God for Timothy’s loyalty to the faith passed down from past generations. He charged him to witness and minister boldly because of God‘s calling, power and authority given to him, because God has saved us by His grace alone, because the gospel is based on the power of Jesus Christ’s resurrection and because we have been appointed by God to do it. We can endure in loyalty to the truth because we know Jesus will be loyal to us. Even when we suffer, we can trust because the character of Christ guarantees our salvation and with the help of the Holy Spirit as Onesiphorus was loyal to minister to Paul despite difficulty and the disloyalty of others. 1

However much (or little) we may have received from God, either directly in natural and spiritual endowment or indirectly through parents, friends and teachers, we must still apply ourselves in active self-discipline to cooperate with God’s grace, to keep fanning the inner fire into flame. Otherwise, we shall never be the men and women God wants us to be, or fulfil the ministry he has given us to exercise. 2 Timothy 1.2-8, 31–32.

We are called to guard the gospel, keeping it pure whatever the cost, and preserving it against every corruption. Guard it faithfully. Spread it actively. Suffer for it bravely. This is our threefold duty vis-à-vis the gospel of God as expounded in this first chapter. 2 Timothy 1.12-18, 47

Then Paul commanded Timothy to endure as a faithful minister, working hard, focused on the prize of God’s approval. He used 6 examples: 1) Discipler: Teach what you have learned to faithful men so that the truth will be passed on, 2) Soldier: A good soldier endures hardship because he is solely focused on pleasing His commander, 3) Athlete: An athlete endures the rigors of competition without short cut because he wants to win the prize. 4)Farmer: Today’s hard work of witness will pay later because God’s faithfulness guarantees reward, 5) Approved Workman: Do your best to know, teach and apply scripture accurately, 6) Vessel: Pursue righteous character so that you are fit and useful to serve God,  and 7) Servant: Gently persuade those who disagree with you with the truth of scripture and kindness.  2

For the understanding of Scripture a balanced combination of thought and prayer is essential. We must do the considering, and the Lord will do the giving of understanding. 2 Timothy 2.7,  60.

As good soldiers, law-abiding athletes and hardworking farmers, we must be utterly dedicated to our work. As unashamed workmen we must be accurate and clear in our exposition. As vessels for noble use we must be righteous in our character and conduct. And as the Lord’s servants we must be courteous and gentle in our manner. Thus each metaphor concentrates on a particular characteristic which contributes to the portrait as a whole, and in fact lays down a condition of usefulness. 2 Timothy 2, 80

2 Tim ChartHe then warned Timothy to watch out for the great coming apostasy and withstand it with God‘s Word. A great apostasy is coming which will look godly, but will actually oppose God and His people. Timothy is to oppose, and endure the persecution of, this apostasy by knowing and using God’s Word.  3

Only the gospel offers a radical solution to this problem. For only the gospel promises a new birth or new creation, which involves being turned inside out, from self to unself, a real reorientation of mind and conduct, and which makes us fundamentally God-centred instead of self-centred. Then, when God is first and self is last, we love the world God loves and seek to give and serve like him. 2 Timothy 3.2-4, 86

Let the word of God make you a man of God! Remain loyal to it and it will lead you on into Christian maturity.’ 2 Timothy 3, 104

Finally, he tells Timothy to endure in service by never stopping preaching the Word or ministering to one another. We are to preach the word, even if people don’t want to hear it, because God will judge our ministries, complete our calling, give our all and hang on to the end because the reward is worth it, be faithful to minister to one another as God is faithful to His Word and to protect His people. People will often disappoint us with their lack of endurance but Jesus will stay with us until the end brings victory. We need to be quick to take ministry opportunities before it is too late. 4

We have no liberty to invent our message, but only to communicate ‘the word’ which God has spoken and has now committed to the church as a sacred trust. 2 Timothy 4.2, 106.

Now these three truths—the appearance, the judgment and the kingdom—should be as clear and certain an expectation to us as they were to Paul and Timothy. They cannot fail to exert a powerful influence on our ministry. For both those who preach the word and those who listen to it must give an account to Christ when he appears. 2 Timothy 4.1, 110.

So then, knowing the sacred deposit entrusted to him, the imminence of his own martyrdom, the natural weaknesses of Timothy, the opposition of the world and the extreme subtlety of Satan, Paul issues to Timothy his fourfold charge regarding the gospel—to guard it (because it is a priceless treasure), to suffer for it (because it is a stumbling-block to the proud), to continue in it (because it is the truth of God) and to proclaim it (because it is good news of salvation).  2 Timothy 4, 126

Don‘t give up! The church can never surrender because Jesus has won the battle.

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