A Few Thoughts on II Timothy

Tuesday night I lead our small group through a study of Paul’s second letter to Timothy. We covered all four chapters in one evening, here were some thoughts…

The themes thorough-out the letter are suffering, persevering through that suffering, false teachers and apostasy, and a concern with teaching that leads to “vain words” and not to godly living.

Paul opens the letter reminding Timothy of his calling as a teacher/shepherd, a calling he has had been being prepared for since was a “young man”. Timothy has been discipled by his mother and grandmother (1:5-6). He also has known the Holy Scriptures “since childhood” (3:15). These have prepared him for the two of primary themes thorough-out the letter – orthodoxy (right doctrine) and orthopraxy (right living) which go hand in hand.

Continually Paul remarks that Timothy should tell his hearers not to “strive about words to no profit” (2:14) That he must be diligent to “rightly handle” the word of truth.(2:15) He should “shun profane and vain babblings” which “increase to more ungodliness” (2:16) That he should avoid “foolish and ignorant disputes” that generate strife (2:23) This striving after words for the sake of words seems to be the modus operandi of the false teachers mentioned in the letter. These folks have a “facade” of godliness but their conduct denies its validity. (3:5) Paul expresses similar concerns in his first letter 1:3-8, 4:7, 6:3-5, 6:20-21.

Paul reminds Timothy that the goal of sound doctrine and teaching, is right living. He instructs him that, Jesus Christ “has rescued us from all that is really evil and called us to a life of holiness” (1:9 – JB Phillips) Paul states that the “foundation inscription” of the faith is that “the Lord knows those who are His” (who is true) and that anyone who is called by His name must “depart from iniquity” (they have left their life of sin) (2:19) He mentions that if anyone who wants to be used of the Lord must purify himself (2:20-22) When he speaks of perilous times that are coming soon he gives a laundry list of the “practices” of those that look religious but are not (3:1-9) Paul reminds Timothy to follow his doctrine and “manner of life” (3:10) and that the scriptures are sufficient for doctrine and instruction in “righteousness” (right living) so that the godly may be complete and ready for “every good work” (3:16-17) and then charges him to preach this word (4:1-5)

Again right doctrine and right living are to go hand in hand. We cannot have one without the other.

Also through-out the letter is the theme of persecution and suffering . In 1:8 Paul reminds Timothy of what he (Paul) has suffered for the Gospel and calls Timothy to “share“ with him in these sufferings. He mentions that he (Paul) is not ashamed of the gospel (1:12) and mentions his chains (1:16) he talks of “enduring” in 2:3 and 2:10 and that he “suffers” as an evil doer (2:9). He mentions his “persecutions and afflictions” (3:11) and all those who desire to live godly “will suffer” (3:12) Paul calls Timothy to “endure afflictions” (4:5) and he closes the letter saying that the Coppersmith did him much harm (4:14) and that he was “delivered from the mouth of the Lion” (4:17) In these passages on suffering he frequently reminds Timothy to persevere through his suffering for the sake of the gospel. Paul mentions three anecdotes that basically sum up Timothy’s calling – he is called to endure by being a faithful, dedicated, and loyal soldier (2:3-4) to do things God’s way (2:5) and to cultivate and persevere patently and he will receive his reward (2:6).

With all this in mind, Paul is very much concerned with apostasy, abandonment, and even denial of the faith (2:12).He mentions by name Phygelus and Hermogenes (1:15) Hymenaeus and Philetus (2:17) men who are like Jannes and Jambres (3:8-9) and Demas who loves the world (4:10) and that at his first defense “no one stood with him”.

There is a “faithful saying” in 2:11-13 that really summarizes the letter:

For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him.
If we endure, We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
Our faith is a call to a way of living,
it is a call to endure suffering – through to the reward.
And that Jesus Christ remains true to His righteous character
regardless of our testimony and unbelief.

All this serves as a reminder, that if we steadfastly teach the truth and live godly lives, more than likely it will inevitably lead to suffering and persecution. But if we endure faithfully through it God promises a bountiful harvest.

Lar

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