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Timothy Series

Studies in 2nd Timothy

2nd Timothy Chapter 2

 

John Baugh
February 11, 2009

 

 

Be Strong

1You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  2The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

 

3Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  4No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

 

5Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.

 

6The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.

 

7Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.  8Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.

 

11It is a trustworthy statement:
         For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
    12If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
         If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
    13If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

 

An Unashamed Workman

 

14Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

 

16But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.

 

19Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness."  20Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

 

22Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  23But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.

 

24The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

 

 

 

Strength and Grace to Guard the Truth

 

1You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  2The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

 

All of us have heard Pastors state that we are only one (uncaring) generation away from losing the Gospel message. As the truth has been entrusted to us, so must it be our responsibility to pass it along to those who come after us. Paul begins the portion of his letter to his disciple that we know as Chapter two by challenging Timothy to do the right things to assure that the truth of the Gospel will continue onward and outward from Ephesus. The first requirement Paul states is that Timothy “be Strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

 

Strength from Grace

 

Paul knows that Christ’s grace is freely given to those who seek to do his will. He has experienced this grace time after time during his years of travel and the many times he has relied on the Lord for strength to continue on in the face of problems and dangers. Paul knows that Timothy also needs this grace as he attempts to daily address the problems in the church at Ephesus. Therefore, the first thing Paul urges Timothy is that he “be strong in the grace that is Christ Jesus.” The words of encouragement that Paul offers to Timothy apply to us, also. As we go through each day, Christ’s strength is there for us, if we seek it out. Paul knew that Christ Jesus was his source of power and that it would be Timothy’s source of power. For both Paul and Timothy to keep the faith and guard the truth required that they remain strong, with strength and power coming from Christ Jesus – power that Jesus said he would provide through the Holy Spirit. It remains true today. For those who follow Christ and attempt to do his will each day, our Lord remains our daily source of power and strength. Our strength to cope and overcome each day’s problems and challenges come through our relationship with the master.

 

Paul, Timothy, the Faithful Men and the Others

 

Second Timothy 2:2 is a benchmark verse for disciple makers, offering the template for accomplishing Christ’s Great Commission (Mathew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:47, John 20:21 and Acts 1:8). Paul leaves no doubt that he sees for generations of disciples in his relationship with Timothy. Paul’s words to Timothy here, make up the template for how each person who understands the only marching orders Christ ever gave us (the Great Commission) must see each person with whom they share the Gospel message. Each person has the potential to become a 'Timothy’ or a ‘faithful man’ and the emphasis of any relationship must look out to the ‘others’. 

 

The truth of the Gospel message is passed on by hearing – mouth to ear transmission of witness, sharing and teaching. It is a one on one process. Paul knows that his responsibility for continuation of the Gospel message (the light of the world) rests with his relationship with Timothy and then the others placed before him. In continuation of this thought, each of us has a tremendous responsibility to communicate the truth to our children, to our friends, and to our neighbors. Our Lord expects each of us to be communicators of the truth, to pass on what we ourselves are deeply convinced is true.

 

Soldiers, Athletes, Farmers

 

3Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  4No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

 

5Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.

 

6The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.

 

Paul wants Timothy to understand the motivations and responsibilities that have governed his life and the life of any who seek to do the Lord’s will. In order to accomplish this he uses three metaphors; the soldier, the athlete and the farmer 

 

Soldiers are (must be) committed to one thing only. They serve to obey and accomplish the orders of their commander. It is interesting that Paul wants Timothy to understand that he is referring to a “good” soldier. Good Soldiers have a full time, unrestricted obligation to fully (single mindedly) comply without question to the marching orders of their commander. Soldiers go only where they are told, they do only what they are told and they stop or retreat only when they are told. They have no say in what they will do to accomplish their orders. Paul tells Timothy that the good soldier has only one objective. He does not entangle himself (hamper his actions or effectiveness) with non essential concerns (daily life). Those concerns remain somewhere down the line in importance from the number one concern of soldering, which is to accomplish the orders if the commander.

 

Athletes must compete according to the rules. It does a runner no good to start the race before the starter’s signal. It does no good to take a shortcut from the marked race course. Boxers may not kick or bite, unless those things are allowed in the rules. The athlete follows the rules of training, rest, diet, understanding that personal compliance to these requirements are all important to performance. The athlete understands that no one will know if he stays up late partying on the night before a race, but his chances of winning the crown of victory will be diminished with each rule of raining that he violates. And so, he follows the rules because he wants to win.

 

Finally, the farmer (one who produces for others) deserves to share in the bounty of the harvest.  It is interesting that Paul refers to the “Hard working” Farmer. A hard working farmer is diligent. He does not take shortcuts. He stays with the work even when it is hot or difficult, easier to stop for the day, or allow a crop (the yield of the harvest) to suffer because it is too difficult to keep it well managed.

 

Christians, like soldiers, athletes and farmers, must commit their lives and actions without reservation to the will of Christ Jesus. For the “good Christian”, personal options, objectives and desires remain secondary to the command of our Lord. As good soldiers, we resolutely follow our commander. We live the Christian lifestyle. We seek only Christ’s will and then like the soldier, athlete or farmer; we work toward accomplishing that will in our lives, our actions and our daily work. We follow Christ’s rules because we want to win the crown of righteousness. Christians are called to say “no” to many things today. There are temptations all around us and many things that are offered that we have no business taking into our lives. Like the good athlete, we say “no” to these things because our goal is to win the crown that only goes to the victor of the race. The athlete has the discipline to say “no - that will hurt me” and we must have that same discipline. Like the hard-working framer we continue on when it would be easy to stop, we start early and work late, preferring to keep going in the expectation of a good harvest. We work until the harvest is secure. In that way, we secure and deserve the fruits of harvest.

 

Paul is telling Timothy and us that the mark of our commitment to Christ Jesus is our willingness to endure the hardships of a good soldier, a committed athlete and a dedicated farmer. We are not called to follow Christ simply to enjoy “the good life”. In Paul’s mind, there is a purpose to our calling and that is to accomplish the will of our master, just as a good soldier. We are expected to follow the rules of righteousness as an athlete and in doing these things we share in the bounty of the harvest like the farmer who has worked hard, through difficult days. 

 

Why do we do these things?

 

7Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.  8Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.

 

We might be convinced to take Paul’s side and through sympathy we might offer understanding if his attitude had been very different in his prison letter to Timothy. However, this was not the case. Paul reminds Timothy to consider Christ and his victory over death and the grave. He reminds Timothy that even though he is a prisoner of the Roman government and considered a criminal, that God’s word is not imprisoned. He tells Timothy that because of Christ, the Gospel and God’s word he is willing to endure whatever comes his way, for the sake of those who are chosen (Christ’s elect), so that they may obtain salvation and eternal glory.

 

Paul’s feelings are the same as countless others who have gone out to proclaim the Gospel. They suffer willingly to share the good news and God’s Holy Word, knowing that as the Gospel is shared and the Word is heard, that lives are affected and eternal security is obtained by those who accept their witness.

 

 

Paul’s Doxology

 

11It is a trustworthy statement:
         For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
    12If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
         If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
    13If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

 

Many statements of faith have been shared across the history of the Church and Paul shares another with Timothy here. Bible scholars speculate that these may be the words to a hymn of those days. Regardless of the source, they speak of Paul’s understanding of our relationship to our Lord and of his relationship to us.

 

For if we died with Him – died to self - to the worldly desires that serve only to pull us away from Christ into spiritual death, we will also live with him, in the abundant life of the Christian who is in the Lord’s will.

 

If we endure – the temptations and soul destroying pull of the world, we will be with him in eternity as he reigns over a resurrected world (God’s kingdom here as it is in Heaven).

 

However, the reverse is also to be considered. If we deny him, what reason would he have to acknowledge us? What he seeks is our faith. Regardless of our small faith in him, he will remain faithful to those who call on him because of who he is. Even among the faithful, there are times when faith falters, we lose focus and stumble or fail him. However Christ remains true to his faithfulness toward us, because of who he is. Simon Peter showed the example of this human frailty when he denied Christ shortly after his arrest, even though he had only hours earlier made strong boastful statements of unyielding faith. Yet in spite of Peter’s failure, Christ remained true to him, because of who he was.

 

Continue the Work, Unashamed

 

An Unashamed Workman

 

14Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

 

Paul asks Timothy to remind the church in Ephesus his words concerning our relationship to Christ and his faithfulness to us. Then he brings up a point he has mentioned before to Timothy. Wrangling (arguing, squabbling, disagreeing) about words (doctrinal points of view) in the church is a useless activity that leads to ruin – always causes problems.

 

Paul tells Timothy to remind the church in Ephesus that they are not to engage in wrangling about God’s word. To engage in discussions that created problems only served to lead them away from God’s work and our obligation to him.

 

Instead, Timothy is to present himself to the Father as a workman (one who works) with no need to be ashamed (of his work) and as one who accurately (truthfully) handles the word of truth (God’s Holy Word). Paul tells Timothy that he has a responsibility to God (not man) in how he completes his work. He is to seek God’s approval by working hard (as a workman) who, by nature of his work, has no need to apologize, or to be ashamed of the work he has done.

 

Finally, Paul tells Timothy to be one “who accurately handles the word of truth”. The word Paul uses here is the same word that means to “cut straight the word of truth”. Paul’s choice here is interesting in that it is most likely a tentmaker’s term that he uses. Those who make articles from fabric or canvas or leather know how important straight cuts are to the quality of the finished product. Inaccurate cuts create pieces that will not fit in with the other pieces as intended, resulting in articles that are the wrong size, shape, do not function as intended and in the end are essentially useless. Attempting to work with pieces that are not accurately cut (not cut straight) is a waste of the worker’s time. This is what Paul is telling Timothy. When working with the scriptures. He is to cut in a straight line. He is to understand how the words fit with (relate to) the rest of scripture, so that when all comes together, the fit is proper and the results functions without needing to pull or stretch or make something fit that is not quite correct.

 

Paul then turns to the subject of church squabbles.

 

16But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.

 

The word we translate as avoid can also be translated as “walk around”. In a way of speaking, Paul is telling Timothy to walk in another direction from these things. He is instruction his spiritual son to stay out of them, to not get involved or allow himself to get pulled into such activity. Why? Paul says it will lead to further ungodliness. Evidently such talk is ungodly and for a pastor to allow him to become involved is to lead to further ungodliness, an infection that will spread like gangrene.

 

Those who have not experienced gangrene are fortunate. It is best described as a horrible spreading death of the flesh that consumes all in its path and eventually (quickly) kills those who have it. Typically the remedy for gangrene is amputation. To save the patient, the offending appendage is removed.

 

Paul offers Timothy two examples of such problems in the church in Ephesus.

 

We do not know very much about Hymenaeus and Philetus, only that they have moved away from the truth. Paul says that they held that the resurrection had passed already and evidently had tried to convince the rest of the church that they were correct. In doing that, they had upset the faith of some in the church. Paul has mentioned Hymenaeus in his first letter to Timothy, saying that he had “delivered him to Satan in order that he may learn not to blaspheme.” (1ST Timothy 1:20). Evidently the man was still creating problems in Ephesus.

Remembering God’s Firm Foundation:

 

19Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness."

 

Finally, Paul tells Timothy to remember the foundation that God has placed with the assurance of his seal.

 

-          The Lord knows who are his – There is no doubt n God’s mind who belongs to him. There may be problems in the church or among believers, but God’s position is firm. He knows those who belong to him.

-          Those who belong to the Lord are to abstain from wickedness.

 

Paul reminds Timothy that God's church is never going to be altered, shaken, or diminished, even by the pettiness or human weaknesses we allow to ruin our lives. God knows those who are his.

 

The Vessels in God’s House:

 

20Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

 

Paul next turns to a discussion of vessels in his letter to Timothy. Considering this, it seems reasonable to ask:

 

“What is the function of a vessel?”

 

Vessels have a utilitarian function. They exist to serve. In use, a vessel is filled up and then is emptied. It is filled and emptied – that is its function of service. In the letter to Timothy, Paul recognizes that there are many different designs and constructions of vessels in any large house. They range from Gold and silver down to wood and earthenware. Some serve to honor and some serve in dishonor.

In use a vessel that is flawed (cracked, broken or contaminated) will not function. No one wants to put good liquid into a flawed vessel. If they do, it will leak or be contaminated by the dirty vessel.

 

People in the church are a lot like vessels in a large house. In fact the great house of God can be extended in reference to include the entire world. Those of us in God’s creation are empty until we are filled by the Holy Spirit and God’s Holy Word. Sadly, some are never filled since accepting God’s presence in our lives seems to be our free will. However, that is the material for another discussion as this portion of Paul’s letter to Timothy seems to be concerned with the vessels that God uses.

 

As long as we hold that spirit or word of God, we have not met our fully intended use. We are only useful to God when we allow ourselves to be filled and then to be emptied as God intends (in God’s will). Paul tells Timothy that the people of Ephesus need to remain clean and free of flaws, so that they will be useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

 

If we look at ourselves as vessels, with a specific function and only useful if we serve the intended purpose of the Master, it is not hard to see why Timothy and those of the church in Ephesus maintaining their purity by avoiding contamination from those things that would serve them no good was so important to Paul.

 

No discussion of this concept would be useful if it did not point out that there are many vessels – gold – silver – wood – earthenware. They are only useful if used as intended. What they are made of is of little importance. How they function for the Master is what matters.

 

Fleeing and Pursuing, Refusing and Seeking

 

22Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  23But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.

 

So, how does Timothy accomplish the cleansing of his life that will allow God to use him as a vessel with an honorable use?

 

-          He is to flee from youthful lusts – to shun them, flee from them get away from them, avoid any exposure to them. Youthful lusts are the thousands of pitfalls that we are exposed to as we attempt to grow in wisdom that (sadly) seems to be characteristic of the young and those who are unwise. Youthful desires are many. They include sexual desires, pride, conceit, ego, impatience, dogmatism, etc.

-          He is to pursue righteousness, faith love and peace – A righteous man does what is right in God’s eyes. He seeks his knowledge of what is right and wrong (right behavior) from God’s guidance, through the Holy Word and not from the opinion of the world. Faith is a reliance on God to determine what is right and what we should do with our lives. It places our actions in his hands and his will. Love is the expression of faith that Christ stressed. It was to be the chief characteristic of those who called him Lord. Peace is the gift that God gives to those who fully trust him in faith Paul tells Timothy he should “pursue” these things. Timothy is to seek them out and follow them; to chase after them. That is what we do when we pursue something. When the hound pursues the fox, he has no care about the time of day, or the weather. He does not yield to hunger, or boundaries. He is in the act of pursuing the fox. That is all that concerns him. Paul seems to indicate here that although God wants us to have these things, they will be ours only if we pursue them.

-          He is to pursue these things with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. The word pure here means “cleansed”. Our hearts are cleansed by and through the presence of Christ. He is the source of purification in our hearts. The more we allow him in us, the purer our hearts will be. It is interesting that the word “cleansed” is past tense. As we seek Righteousness, faith, love and peace with those who have been cleansed, they can tell us, “I know your problems. I have been there, too.” Our journey toward righteousness, faith, love and peace is best traveled with those who have been down the road before us.

-          He is to refuse foolish and ignorant speculations – Paul has stated this requirement several times. Timothy is to avoid, walk away from, fight against and flee from the things that are foolish and speculative. There is no good in them and he is better staying away from them. The word translated as foolish here is “Moros”, the same Greek word we get our word Moron from. Paul is telling Timothy to not be a moron. That sounds pretty plainly stated to me. Debating with a moron is a total waste of time. Even if you believe that you have won the speculative discussion, you have accomplished nothing. In Paul’s mind, it is far better to stay away from them.

 

24The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,  26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

 

Then Paul gives Timothy requirements for the Lord’s bond-servant.

 

Question #1 – What is a Bond Servant?

There were many slaves and servants in Paul’s day. Some slaves and servants were indentured for a time and then were to be set free. Some masters occasionally freed their slaves. In the case of a bond-servant, the binding of servant to master was by choice. The servant had made the decision to make their servitude official and permanent. In other words they had made a willful decision to remain under the total authority to their master. There was an official mark to designate this bond. The servant would step up to a wooden post and have a spike nailed through their ear. The resulting mark (hole in their ear) was a public sign of their decision of servitude. When Paul makes his statement to Timothy, he considers his service and Timothy’s service to the Lord as willful, freely made, publicly stated and permanent. As such, they stated their willingness to go wherever the master (Christ Jesus) desired and to do whatever he asked.

 

Requirements of the Bond-Servant of the Lord

 

-          Must not be quarrelsome – It does a Christian little good to walk the streets looking for a fight. Someone smarter than me once said that no one was ever argued into belief in God or his Son Christ Jesus. In Paul’s mind a Timothy who constantly sought out a disagreement would be a poor representative of Christ Jesus. The famous Evangelist Charles Spurgeon once mentioned quarrelsome Christians he knew by saying that they "...went about with theological revolvers in their ecclesiastical trousers." Perhaps they used their guns to kill the opposition, but a dead body is not what Christ wanted from our witness.

-          Must be kind – the word Paul uses also translates as gentle or approachable. One of the marks of a good Christian is that they are approachable by everyone. All of us have known people who, even though they were very knowledgeable, were so difficult to deal with that no one was ever willing to approach them for advice or help. Such a person is of little help to the Lord. 

-          Must be able to teach – Paul repeats a portion of the statement he made in 2 Timothy 2:2 here. He knows that Timothy’s objective in Ephesus is to teach the Gospel to others. Someone said that the Lord’s servant must always be able to bring any discussion back to the facts so that the spiritual truth is not diluted or changed with feelings or emotions that lead to fantasies about the meaning of scripture.

-          Must be patient when wronged – everyone must be able to deal with cases where they are mistreated. The good servant of the Lord must be able to keep his cool when faced with experiences that might lead to anger or vengeance or a ‘response in kind’. How we respond to attacks and wrongdoing by others shows how much like our master we are.

 

"while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously”
(1 Peter 2:23 NASB)

 

-          Must correct those in opposition with gentleness – selflessness - keeping from getting personally involved (in anger, spitefulness or revenge).

 

All of these things must be done so that God

 

-          Will grant those (who are taught, do wrong and stand in opposition) repentance – that they may turn away from their opposition. There is no winner of any opposition to God’s will if the oppose is beat into submission. Winning for God comes when there is repentance.

 

-          Will lead them to a knowledge of the truth – This is what the Gospel is – Truth. If God leads one who is in opposition to knowledge of the truth, they see and understand the Gospel message for what it is – The way, the truth the light.

 

-          So that they may come to their senses and find escape from the snare of the devil who holds them captive to do his will – When we fall prey to sin and all of the problems associated with opposition to the truth, we are operating in a condition of lost sense (of right and wrong and God’s will for our lives). The deeper we sink into this condition of separation, the more captive we become to our separation (the snare of the Devil and captivity to his will and not God’s will for us).

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2009, by ToBeLikeHim Ministries

 

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