About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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My Commentary On 2 Timothy




This commentary is based on the NIV, 1984 edition of the Bible.  The chapter times in this commentary correspond with those in the NIV Bible to make for easier study. 


It has been suggested by many that Paul’s first letter to Timothy is hard to date, while his second letter was probably written close to the end of his life, while he was in prison in Rome.  If this is truly the case, then what he would have to say to Timothy would be very important, maybe something compared to a man’s last words as he approaches death’s door.  That means we should take special note of what he tells Timothy.  Of course we should take special note of every verse in the Bible.  It is just that people tend to say the most important things at the end of their lives.           


Although there is debate over the dating and circumstance of this letter, it's my thinking, at least to date, and I suggest might well be the most popular view, that Paul wrote this letter from a Roman prison cell soon before he died. 


The book of Acts ends with Paul in house arrest in Rome .  At this point in Roman history, Nero was the Caesar and he was ruling with a measure of graciousness.  That, however, began to change.  Nero became very nasty, abusive, and dictatorial.  He began to arrest and execute Christians.  It is understood by many that Paul was set free by Nero after his house arrest as seen in Acts 28.  Clement of Rome , in and around 95 AD says that Paul ended up preaching the gospel to the far west of the empire.  That would strongly suggest that he did get to Spain as he hoped.  See Romans 15:24 and 28. 


If the above is historically accurate, Paul was rearrested in Rome , imprisoned, and executed by beheading. He would have spent his last days, weeks, or even months, in a rat infested Roman hell hole of a prison.  For those on death row, they would live in a tiny cell.  They would have been released a couple of times a day to use a bathroom.  Other than that, the corner of their cell was a toilet.  Some cells had windows; others didn't.  Prisoners were never washed or shaven.  They would stink.  As a matter of fact the whole prison would stink severely.  This is the way in which the great Apostle Paul finished his days on earth. 


Both secular and religious historians alike, credit Paul for much of the underlying thinking of western civilization, something many modern western people have never considered.  As you read and study 2 Timothy, Paul's last known writing, it's important to keep this background in mind.  These are the words of a man who knew he was about to die a very painful death.               



Introduction (ch. 1:1 - 2)


As is the case in most of Paul’s writings, he introduces himself as “an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God”.  Paul has been sent by God to preach the gospel of Christ.  Paul adds the phrase, “according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus”.  If Paul knew that his life was soon coming to an end, this “promise of life” certainly meant a lot to him, and would refer to life in eternity.


I've often heard over the last couple of decades the importance that the gospel has on this present life in which we live, but I think it has more importance on the next life, for the next life is eternal.  I think the life that Paul is thinking about here is the next life.  We should not de-emphasize the next life as we emphasize this life.   Some suggest that those who try to balance this out by speaking of the next life are "too heavenly minded to be any earthly good".  That may be true with some but the reverse can be true as well.  Some are to "earthly minded to be any heavenly good".  I think that's more of a problem in our day.     


Verse 2 says, “To Timothy, my dear son”.  Note the affectionate use of the word “dear”.   As I said before, Timothy was not the biological son of Paul, but Paul's spiritual son.  Paul considered him a spiritual son in the Lord.  


Some Bible teachers in recent years have taken this verse and others like it and made a New Testament doctrine out of it.  They say everyone needs to find a spiritual father and submit themselves to him.  Some even suggest that we can have more than one spiritual father.  That makes no sense to me.  One can only have one biological father, so how could one have more than one spiritual father. 


I'm not against people having a spiritual father.  What I am not in favour of is making a personal relationship that Paul had with some people and formalizing it into a New Testament teaching, and telling people they need to go out and search for a spiritual father.  I do not believe this is good hermeneutics.   People have done the same with David and Jonathan in the Old Testament.  These two men made a covenant with one another.  Some Bible teachers have taken their personal choice and made a New Testament doctrine out of it, saying all believers should be making covenants with one another.  This is bad Biblical interpretation as well.   We don't make new New Testament teachings.  We simply repeat the teachings that New Testament writers taught, not how they lived.  If this were not so, then we should be putting ourselves in jail.  Paul spent much time in jail.   Why don't we make a New Testament doctrine out of that experience of Paul?  You can't pick and choose personal experiences and make a doctrine out of them.            


In the second half of verse 2 Paul gives greetings to Timothy as though he were God’s ambassador to Timothy, which in fact he was.  He says, “Grace, peace and mercy from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord”.  As I always say, Paul constantly links God the Father to Jesus, because he knows that the only true God is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Christians must not separate Jesus from God, but it is always amazing to me how we speak so much of God and little of Jesus.  The world will not really know what God we serve if we continue this pattern of speech.


We can note here that God is our Father.  We have a heavenly Father, and He is God.  We also have a Christ (Saviour) and a Lord.  Paul personalizes the Lordship of Jesus by calling Him “our Lord”.  He is not only “the Lord”, but “our Lord”.  The words "our Lord" personalizes the fact that Jesus is our personal Lord.  If this is really the case, then we should live as if He is our Lord.  


Encouragement To Be Faithful  (chl. 1:3 – 2:16)


Paul is a man of prayer.  Of course there is more than one aspect to prayer.  One aspect he mentions here in verse three is “remembering” Timothy in prayer.  This may take on the form of intercession, or it may be as simple as remembering Timothy to the Lord in a brief but meaningful thought to God.  Directing our thoughts to the Lord during daily life is one real aspect of prayer. 


Paul says that he serves God as his forefathers did, although his understanding and service was quite different from that of his forefathers.  His forefathers of the Old Testament did not know God as the Father of Jesus, but the God of the Messiah which was to come.  One real way in which Paul served God as his forefathers did was in his faith in God.  One of Paul's main points in the first half of his book of Romans is that both New Testament Christians and Old Testament Jews have the same faith.  Both Paul and Abraham had the same faith in the same God. 


I believe Paul makes this statement concerning him serving the God of his forefathers because he wants Christian Jews to know that he is not serving a different God.  Non-Christian Jews felt Paul was serving a different God.


Verse 3 states that Paul prayed "night and day".  Paul was constantly in prayer.  Of course that doesn't mean he was always on his knees.  What it does mean is that he was always in a spirit of prayer.  He was always thinking to the Lord, not just thinking to himself. 


In verse 4 Paul expresses his longing to see Timothy.  As we see in other of Paul’s letters, he had great emotion for those he ministered to and cared for, and even more so with Timothy since he considered him a son in the Lord.  Paul says that he remembers “Timothy’s tears”.  Paul does not express the occasion for these tears, so we really can’t comment on what he means by these words, other than Timothy must have had great emotion as well.  Paul did not view his service in the Lord as a job, or as a career.  It was a personal calling by God to present the personal gospel to individuals which would result in a personal relationship with these individuals.


Paul’s joy was found in Jesus and his people. When God’s people were not following Jesus as they ought, he was quite distressed, but when they were doing well in the Lord, Paul was very joyful.  Paul knew that Timothy was doing well, and therefore he knew that he would be filled with joy if he could only see him again.  I can only imagine how Paul would feel when he met up with Timothy again and gave him a big hug.  He would probably be overwhelmed with joy.


In verse 5 Paul says that he is “reminded of Timothy’s sincere faith”.  This could possibly suggest that some people do not have as sincere of a faith as Timothy did.  This is most likely the case.  Remember faith is simply trusting in Jesus for your salvation.  Some people trust more than others.  Some people’s faith is weak, as Paul says in Romans 14.  Those who tend to depend on other things for salvation, other than what Jesus has already done, have weak faith.


Paul notes that this faith was not only found in Timothy, but in his mother and grandmother as well.  From Acts 16:1 – 3 we see that Timothy’s mother was a Jew and his father was a Greek.  Timothy’s mother Eunice most likely was a devote Jew before becoming a Christian.


In verse 6 Paul tells Timothy “to fan into flame the gift of God that is in you by the laying on of hands”.  What gift is Paul referring to here?  I think the gift that Paul is talking about here is the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Why do I say this?  The next sentence starts by saying “for God did not give us a spirit of timidity…”  The words “God did not give us a spirit” are in direct reference to the “gift” in the previous sentence.  One might argue that the gift is Timothy's calling. This might well be right, but I think in the present context the gift is the Spirit Himself.


If the gift is indeed the Holy Spirit, then Paul’s exhortation tells us something concerning man’s responsibility in our relation to the Holy Spirit.  We need to “fan into flame” our gift of the Spirit.  What does this mean?  If one sets a fire, one can cause the fire to increase in strength by fanning it.  The same is true with the Holy Spirit.  When we become a true Christian, we receive God’s Spirit, but that is not enough.  We need to do certain things in order to allow the Holy Spirit to influence us and to use us. 


Giving ourselves to spiritual activity, such things as prayer, Bible study, and doing God’s work will help the Holy Spirit within us increase His influence in our lives.  If we are stagnant Christians the Holy Spirit will be like a small spark in our lives.  If we have an eagerness to participate in things spiritual, then He will be more than a little spark.


Note that this gift, that is the Holy Spirit, was given to Timothy when Paul laid hands on him.  This tells me that Paul was instrumental in Timothy’s conversion.


In verse 7 Paul says that God has “not given us a spirit of timidity, but of love, power and self-discipline”.  Timidity is a thing of the flesh.  The Holy Spirit can bring us out of such timidity because there is power in the Spirit.  He also can make us love as we should and bring a discipline to our lives.  If these things are not found in a life, then this tells us that the Holy Spirit’s activity is limited in that person’s life. There is a human element to making the Holy Spirit work within us.  That is to say, there are things we need to do as Christians that will allow His presence in our lives.


In verse 8 Paul tells Timothy “not to be ashamed to testify about our Lord”.  While growing up in the Evangelical Church many of us were ashamed to give testimony to others about Jesus.  We were afraid of their response. This was most likely due to the fact that the Holy Spirit was not really involved in our lives.  When one gives himself to Jesus and allows God’s Spirit to have control, then the fear of men begins to diminish.     


We might be able to learn something about Timothy here, although it is a bit speculative.  Paul tells Timothy not to be timid or ashamed.  Therefore, Timothy might have been a bit shy and timid.   Paul might have needed to encourage him to step out of himself and allow the Holy Spirit to work through him to boldly live and proclaim the gospel of Christ.      


Paul also tells Timothy not to be ashamed that Paul is a prisoner for the Lord.  I am sure that Paul does not wish to be a prisoner.  I am sure that he would rather be set free to serve Jesus without the chains.  But this was not the case.  Paul was happy to suffer for Jesus. He viewed it as part of his calling.  If he himself was not ashamed of his imprisonment, neither should anyone else be ashamed.  And concerning Paul's imprisonment, it is clear that it was God's will and probably Paul got more things accomplished in jail than what he would have out of jail.  God's ways are not always logical to us.  That doesn't mean God isn't logical.  It simply means we don't understand God's logic.  We are the illogical ones. 


As I said in my introduction; I believe the imprisonment spoken here of Paul was his second imprisonment in Rome .  We will see in verse 17 that he was writing this letter from Rome.  We will see in chapter 4 that he knew his earthly life was almost over.  This is why we date this letter around 66 A D.    


Being ashamed of Jesus is one of the major factors why the gospel is not spread as it should be.  Too many of us are too afraid to share our testimony.  It was clear in the book of Acts that one of the biggest results of Acts 2, the receiving the Spirit into the lives of the believers, was fearlessness.


Paul goes as far to tell Timothy to “join with him in suffering for the gospel”.  You can see Paul’s thinking on suffering here.  He was not afraid to suffer.  He embraced it as part of his calling.  He tells Timothy to do the same.  You must remember that in Acts 9, when Jesus called Paul, He promised him that he would suffer for His cause.


In verse 9 Paul says that God has not only saved us, but has also “called us to a holy life”.  The salvation message should not merely include a way to heaven, but should include the calling to be holy.  This is the important aspect the present life that we now live as Christians.  As I said earlier, there's an ongoing debate between some. What is more important, this life or the next life.  Many of those who say this life is the important thing say this in terms of what they can get from God, but that's selfish.  This life is important, and it is important because in this life we should be living godly, and that will affect us in the next life.  We will be rewarded for our godliness in this life.  It's not what we can get from God in this life, but what we can give to Him in this life.    


In verse 9 Paul emphasizes the true nature of the gospel, that is our salvation “is not because of anything we have done”.  This is fundamental in the gospel message.  We can do absolutely nothing to earn our salvation. It has been completely paid for by Jesus.  We simply trust Him with our lives, and as we do, we find favour and salvation with God.  Salvation is based on “God’s own purpose and grace” Paul says.  God has purposed, or works out a plan to save us, and that plan is based on His grace, His unmerited mercy that has been extended towards all mankind.


We should also understand that we do not continue to be saved because of our good works.  They will be rewarded for if done from a sincere heart of faith, but they don't keep us saved.  Our ever-present trust in Jesus keeps us saved. 


Paul connects being saved and living a holy life together here.  Both are part of the gospel message and should not be left out of our preaching.  If we only preach "get saved and go to heaven," we have not preached the whole gospel.  We must speak of holiness as well.     


In verse 10 Paul says that “this grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time”.  God’s love and grace is clearly shown to mankind in the fact that God came to earth in human flesh, that is in Jesus.  This was not an after thought for God.  God had decided this before the beginning of time.  Somehow this suggests to me that when God created mankind, He knew that things would go as they did, and that a drastic plan would have to be put in place.  Therefore, before Genesis 1, before the creation of human beings, God had purposed to show His love by giving Himself in the form of Jesus, and He did this because sin was already in existence in satan and those with him.


Even though God purposed salvation long before creation, He now has made it known by the appearing of Jesus in human history and by the gospel message that He brought, and that Paul fearlessly preached.  In verse 11 Paul says that he “was appointed a herald, an apostle, and a teacher” of this gospel.  A herald simply means a preacher, or one who speaks forth the gospel. An apostle is one who is sent to bring the good news to people and build them into a living community of God’s people.  A teacher is one who teaches new believers the things of God.  Paul was more than an apostle.  Sometimes we get pretty narrow in our thinking and separate ministries into tightly well defined categories.  I'm not sure the early apostles felt this ways.     


In verse 12 Paul goes on to say, “that is why I am suffering as I am”.  The mere fact that God has called Paul to be these things has brought all this suffering on him.   But that is fine with Paul.  He is “not ashamed” as he states once again.  Suffering is not nice, but Paul gladly suffered for Jesus.


Why was Paul not ashamed?  It is because he says “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day”.  This knowing for sure, and being convinced, is extremely important in the life of a believer.  The more “we know of Jesus and are convinced” in our hearts of Him, the more effective we will be in living as we should. 


What has Paul “entrusted” to God?  I think he is speaking of his life.  God trusts us with the gospel message, and we trust Him with our lives.  This is what salvation and the gospel is all about.  We need this understanding. 


In verse 13 Paul tells Timothy that what he “has learned, keep as the pattern for sound teaching”.  Many quote this Scripture in reference to discipleship.  In one sense Paul was training Timothy for a place of leadership in Christian circles. Whether this is actually called “discipleship” or “leadership training” may be debatable.  Paul does clearly tell Timothy that what he has learned from Paul should be thought of as sound doctrine and therefore taught to others. 


Paul qualifies his point about sound teaching by saying that it must be mixed with “faith and love”, two words that Paul always links together.  Faith, or true trust in Jesus, produces love.  Both are the foundation to teaching doctrine to the church.  We do not teach for the sake of teaching, or for the sake of being noticed as we teach.  We teach because we want to serve Jesus and help His people understand as they should.


In verse 14 Paul tells Timothy “to guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you -  guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us”.  The use of the word “guard” suggests that Timothy (us as well) should keep close watch over whatever God has given him or us.  God “entrusted” Timothy with a “good deposit”.  What could this good deposit possibly be?  We know that the Holy Spirit can help Timothy in the guarding process, as Paul says, so the Holy Spirit cannot be the “good deposit” that Paul is thinking about.  What I think Paul might be speaking about, and I could be wrong, is Timothy’s ministry.  We often see Paul speaking of his ministry as something that has been “entrusted” to him by the Lord.  The same would be true of Timothy. He has a God given ministry to take care of, to watch over, and to guard.   That being said, anything God gives us must be guarded.  That includes all aspects of our salvation.  


We all know of servants of God who have not guarded their ministry and for one reason or another have fallen, ending the ministry that God had given them.  Sexual sin, along with pride, are often two things that cause a man to fall. 


In verse 15 Paul says that “everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me”.  Does this mean “everyone”, as in all Christians, or “everyone” as in all of his fellow workers left him?  My guess is that “everyone of his fellow workers” left him.  Why did these people forsake him?  They appeared to be “ashamed of his chains”.  It appears that many felt either embarrassed because of Paul’s imprisonment, or afraid that the same thing would happen to them, so it was better for them to run than stay and end up in jail like Paul.


In verses 16 to 18 we see that the household of Onesiphorus was not so inclined like the rest.  They often “refreshed” Paul in his need.  Onesiphorus actually went out of his way to seek Paul out when he was in Rome , something that Paul was very grateful for.  “May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day”.   That day most likely refers to the coming day of judgement when all men will have to give account of themselves before the Lord. 


Note that Paul mentions Rome here.  It is clear to me that he was in Rome when he wrote this letter.


Onesiphorus sought Paul out.  Human tendency is to wait for others to seek us out.  Seeking other people out is a form of hospitality, something Christians need more us.  Note that Onesiphorus searched "hard" for Paul.  He just didn't look and give up, satisfying any guilt he may have had.    


In chapter 2 verse 1 Paul tells Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ”.  He prefaces these words by calling Timothy “my son”, emphasizing the words that would follow.  The grace that is in Christ is the foundation to our lives as Christians.  We need to know and understand the best we can what this means.  As Christians I feel we don’t appreciate God’s grace as we should, mainly because we have not given it much consideration or thought.  I don’t think we will ever be able to understand God’s grace in its totality but I think we can understand and appreciate it more than we do.   I think one of the worst things we do as Christians is to take advantage of God’s grace.  That is, we do our own thing, or even sin, knowing that God will forgive.


There are actually two aspects to grace.  One is God's unmerited favour, which would be the grace I mentioned in the last paragraph.  The other is the ability that God gives us to do His will.  This grace is more active.  It requires us to do things, but with the help that only comes from God.  I think Paul might be speaking of both aspects of grace here.    


Verse 2 is another one of those “discipleship” verses, probably the most popular one.  Paul tells Timothy to pass along what he has told him and to “entrust” these things to “reliable men” who can also pass them on to other reliable men.  The adjective “reliable” is important here.  Paul is not one who likes waste, and I don’t think that he would like wasting his time and effort on training unreliable men, men who will do nothing with it. 


Paul also uses the word “qualified”.  If Timothy successfully passed this teaching on to reliable men, then they would be “qualified” to pass it on to others.  We do need to be “qualified” if we want to serve our Lord, especially in certain areas such as teaching and preaching.  Leaders in the church need certain qualities to lead.  If they don’t have these qualities, then they should not be leaders.  Concerning these qualities, Paul told Timothy in chapter 3 of his first letter what they were.


In verse 3 he tells Timothy “to endure hardship as a good soldier…”  When becoming a Christian in today’s world, we don’t think in terms of “enduring hardship” because we have become a Christian.  This was not the case with the first century church.  Hardship was a result of finding faith in Jesus.  Paul knew that only to well, and Paul was encouraging Timothy not to run from such hardship, but to embrace it.  In one sense of the word, Paul felt like a soldier.  He was in a fight, not against flesh and blood, but against evil powers of spiritual darkness. 


The gospel that is often preached these days has no suggestion that one will suffer hardship once they become a Christian.  This shouldn't be.  Christians will be tested by God, and hardships are one means of testing.  As our society moves away from its Christian heritage, we will also suffer greater hardship as a Christian.  We need to prepare ourselves for that.  It's beginning to happen now.  


In verse 4 Paul continues on with his military analogy when he says that “no one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs”.  Soldiers are single minded.  They serve their commanding officer.  The same is true with soldiers of Christ.  They have devoted themselves to serving Jesus and don’t get caught up in worldly things.  Soldiers have to be single minded, especially in battle or else they will lose their lives.  The same is true with Christians.


One of our biggest problems and temptations as Christians is to love the world more than we should.  The early Christians felt the world was something to be rescued from, not in love with.  This is what Paul is getting at in this verse.  The world often draws us away from the things of God.  


In verse 5 Paul gives another analogy and that is a sporting analogy.  An athlete must train hard, be single minded and “play by the rules”, as Paul puts it.  Only then will he have a chance to win the prize for which he is competing for.  There are rules to live when serving the Lord as New Testament Christians.  We often think that rules are an Old Testament thing, but we need to live according to how Jesus wants us to live, and that suggests rules.  


In verse 6 Paul gives another analogy.  He compares the servant of God to a farmer.  The comparison here is in terms of financial remuneration.  A farmer who plants crops should be the first one to share in the crops that he has planted.  He plants in order to sell, but he also plants in order for him to eat.  So before he sells any of his crops, he takes some for himself and his family.  The same should be true with a Christian minister, even though Paul himself in many cases did not take this privilege for himself.


One thing I think Paul would agree to is that a servant of God should not take an over-abundance of money from those he serves.  The calling of God is not a means to get rich.  Many pastors today are highly paid.  It is a lucrative career, something it shouldn't be.   A local pastor should not be making lots more money than those he is supposed to be caring for, or so I believe.


In verse 7 Paul says, “reflect on what I am saying and the Lord will give the insight in all of these things”.  This should be the attitude of any Christian teacher or preacher.  Those listening should hear what is being said but then take the time on their own to “reflect” on what is said.  If what is being said is truly of God, then God Himself “will give insight” on the matters.  There are a couple of difficulties as I see them.  Sometimes those doing the teaching think that they are important and what they say should be accepted as the full truth all the time.  But we who teach should allow the Lord to give the final insight.  Then on the other hand, in today’s society many of us would rather have things just given to us.  We would rather simply hear something; accept it as gospel, without doing any reflecting on the subject for ourselves. Without this reflecting, God will not give us real insight.  It will all be head knowledge that we may soon forget.  When God gives insight, it penetrates into our hearts as well as our minds.


In verse 8 Paul reminds Timothy to “remember Jesus Christ” for He is what the gospel is all about, and it is for this reason that Paul is in prison as if he were a criminal.  Even though Paul himself is in chains, he says that the gospel is not in chains.  You can imprison the messenger, but the message is still out there, working its way across the land.


Because the gospel can’t be chained, Paul “endures everything for the sake of the elect”.  Spreading of the good news of Jesus is foremost in Paul’s life.  Everything else is secondary, even his own personal welfare.


In verse 8 Paul says "this is my gospel."   I have encountered some in recent years that make too much out of this statement.  They say that Paul has his gospel, Peter has his gospel, and John has his gospel, and so on.  Every apostle has a different gospel.  How wrong can one be.  There is only one gospel and that is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The reason why Paul calls it "my gospel' is simply that he has taken Jesus' gospel, applied it to himself, and claimed it as his own, something the other New Testament apostles also did.  Paul did not have his own exclusive gospel.   


We see the word “elect” in verse 10.  This word has caused great controversy over the centuries.  Some have believed that God has chosen certain people for salvation, and these people are called “the elect”, while those who aren’t chosen can never be saved.  In my commentary on Rom. 8:31 I explain that God has called, or has chosen, or has elected all mankind to salvation.  But only those who actually respond in a positive fashion will receive salvation.  To me this is the tenor of New Testament thinking.  This is fundamental to what Jesus so many times said, “whosoever will…”, that is whosoever will be saved, will be saved.  If you don’t want to be saved, you won’t be saved.  It is that simple.  Therefore when Paul uses the word “elect” in this verse, he is speaking about all those who respond to Cod’s call, both present and future.  That being said, in some New Testament contexts, the word "elect" refers to Jews.  And, Paul was willing to suffer for God's elect.  That means he suffered for you and I.  You can thank Paul for this in the next life when you see him. 


Verse 11 begins another “trustworthy saying”.  It actually appears to be more than one saying.  The first one is, “if we died with Him, we will also live with Him”.  Whether Paul is speaking of future resurrection life here or living with Jesus in the present is difficult to know.  Yet both are true.  We will live with Jesus in Heaven and also in the next life on the new earth.  Also, to the degree in which we die to self now, is the degree we will experience the present day reality of Jesus.


The next saying seen in verse 12 is, “if we endure, we will also reign with Him”.  If we don’t give up our faith, our trust in Jesus, someday on the new earth we will reign over the universe along side of Jesus.  We tend to think of eternity in heaven, but if you read the book of Revelation, you will see that eventually we end up on the new earth. 


Paul goes on to say, “If we disown Him, He will also disown us”.  The KJV says, “if we believe not…”  This is what I think Paul is saying.  I believe that disowning Jesus means to lay aside your faith, your trust, or to renounce Him altogether.  If this then is the case, then Jesus has no other alternative than to lay aside you.  Our salvation is based on our trust in Him, and if we no longer trust Him, we no longer have salvation. Once again, it is that simple.  Good works don’t save us, faith does.  Bad works don’t unsave us, unbelief does.


The last trustworthy statement is found in verse 13.  It says, “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself”.  Paul is not saying that if we are faithless, God is still faithful and will save us.  He is saying that we can be faithless, but God will be faithful to who He is and what He plans.  Our faithlessness will not change God in the least.  He will continue to do as He wishes.  We may disown Him, or not trust Him, but He cannot disown Himself or His plans.  Faithlessness is not a part of God.  He will do what He wishes whether we believe in Him or not.



Workman Approved By God (ch. 2:14 - 26)


In verse 14 Paul tells Timothy to “remind them of these things.”  Who is the word “them” referring to?  I believe that “them” is referring back to the “elect”.  Paul wants Timothy to remind the elect of the things Paul has taught him.  Paul tells Timothy to “warn them about quarrelling”, for “it has no value”.


In our day when radio talk shows are all about arguing, and I mean arguing, not legitimately debating, Christians are beginning to do the same, in all forms of media.  This should not be.  We should not be arguing with each other in public.  It only hurts our witness, and new Christians could easily lose heart.


In verse 15 Paul tells Timothy “to do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed”.  A servant of the Lord who doesn’t do his best job will have something to be ashamed of before the Lord.  Paul does not want Timothy to be in this position.  Paul did his best, and was quite assured of that before the Lord.  Therefore Paul had nothing to be ashamed of.  Paul constantly wanted to please Jesus.  He did not want to meet him at the end of this age and be ashamed.  These things I find so foreign to our day.


Part of not being ashamed is “correctly handling the word of truth”, as Paul puts it.  This is very important.  The word of truth for Timothy was the gospel in general which would include the Scriptures of the Old Testament.  Correctly handling the word of truth means to first understand what the word of truth is, and then passing it along with pure motives.  Some mishandle God’s word by the way they interpret it, and also by the way they use it.  Mishandling of the Word of truth is still a problem today. 


In verse 16 Paul proceeds to tell Timothy “to avoid godless chatter”. There might be some variation from person to person to just what “godless chatter” might mean.  To me, godless chatter is talk that does not glorify God.  Much of what we need to say in a day is neutral.  It neither glorifies God nor blasphemes God.  Much of this kind of talk is necessary.  But there are other things that we say, maybe by complaining, maybe by gossiping, or maybe by becoming too involved in worldly discussions, may be godless chatter.  The more we talk in the fashion of the world, the more we become like the world, and the more “ungodly” we will become. 


Growing up in the church led me to believe that godless chatter was what many called “dirty jokes”.  Then at times one would have to define what “dirty” actually meant.  From person to person, it seemed to mean something different.  Some think that joking around is godless chatter, but I don't think so.  Joking around with a friend in my thinking is part of a healthy and close relationship.  People don't joke around with those they aren't close to


Yet verse 17 suggests that unscriptural teaching is also godless chatter.  Paul says, “Their teaching will spread like gangrene”.  The teaching of the ungodly, possibly the Judiazers for example, would be classified as godless chatter. I think this is really the godless chatter that Paul is talking about


There were two men that Paul pointed out as examples of those who promoted wrong teaching or godless chatter.  Hymenaeus and Philetus were teaching that the resurrection had already taken place.  By teaching such things Paul says that they “destroy the faith of some”.  The two men themselves as Paul puts it, “have wandered from the truth”.  If one wanders too far from the truth, they will step beyond the borders of truth and by so doing will forsake the true gospel and its accompanying salvation.


With some men teaching wrong doctrine and wandering from true Biblical truth we might question who really belongs to God.  Who are really saved?  This may be hard for us to know at times.  That is, how can we know when one wanders too far?  Where is the dividing line?  So in answer to this Paul says in verse 19, “the foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription, the Lord knows those who are His, and, everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness”.  Paul is saying that if we don’t know if someone is really saved or not, God does, and that is the important thing.  He also adds that those who claim to be saved must “turn from wickedness”, suggesting that if they don’t turn from their wicked ways, they may not be saved in the first place.


In verses 20 and 21 Paul says that in “a large house there is not only articles of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay”.  He is suggesting that the gold and silver articles are used for “noble purposes”, and that the wood and clay articles are used for “ignoble purposes”.  Then in verse 22 he says that if “a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes”.  What is Paul saying here?   I believe the NIV misleads its readers.  It suggests that Paul is saying to stay away from the ignoble members in the house of the Lord.  I don't believe Paul is saying this, and other translations, like the New Living Bible back up my point.


Paul isn't saying stay away from those members of the Body of 
Christ who are doing a somewhat lesser job.  He's telling Timothy
and the church to purify themselves of such ignoble vessels.  It's the ignoble parts of us we are to stay clear of and purify, not those among us who may well be in the process of sanctification.


Things have not changed since the first generation church.  Within what is called the church today, there are godly people who follow after truth, and there are ungodly people who don’t care to follow after the truth.  The same admonition would be true for us today, as it was for Timothy back in the first century.


Paul continues by saying that Timothy “would be useful … prepared for any good work”.  We all want to be useful in the service of the Lord.  There are many things that need to be found in our life to have this come about. Withdrawing from those who are described as wood and clay is one of these things.


We need to understand who to withdraw from.  Paul is not talking about withdrawing from just anyone.  He's not talking about withdrawing from weak Christians.  He's talking about withdrawing from false leaders.  This is important today since many denominations are far from Christian.  


In verse 21 Paul tells Timothy to “flee youthful desires”.  What Paul might have had in mind might be somewhat debatable.  “Youthful desires” could be referring to sexual desire, a desire to succeed in a worldly way, or probably a number of other things.  The important thing for Timothy, especially in light of his calling from God is to “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace …”  All these things that are holy and spiritual.  He tells Timothy to do this with “all those who call upon the name of the Lord”.  Timothy’s calling is to the church, and in the church is where he should find his close associates. 


Once again, in verse 23 Paul tells Timothy not to have anything to do with “foolish and stupid arguments” since they only lead to quarrelling. 


In verse 24 Paul says that the “Lord’s servant must not quarrel”.   Instead of being argumentative, he must be “kind to everyone, able to teach, and not resentful”.  Note the importance that Paul puts on teaching in this verse.  It ranks with being kind and not being resentful.  Paul also says the servant of the Lord must be gentle.  I believe that gentleness is one of the marks of a mature Christian and needs to be seen in all church leaders.


At this point we should note the distinction between quarrelling and a healthy debate.  If you read the book of Acts you will see that Paul spent much time in debating, that is, if he felt the debate was useful.  But, he would not get into a nasty quarrel.  There is a difference between the two.  The debates were always around theological issues.    


In verse 25 Paul says that he expects opposition to leadership.  Timothy is encouraged to “gently correct” his opposition.  Gentleness should be one of the marks of a true Christian leader.  Abrasiveness and argumentativeness   should not be found in a church leader.  The goal of this gentle correction is to bring the opposition into a “knowledge of the truth”.  Correction is not meant to vent your anger at someone. 


Paul speaks strong against those who oppose him and his gospel, the gospel that Timothy has learned.  He tells Timothy that these men are “in the trap of the devil”, and have been made “captive to his will”.  This might suggest the nature of the opposition Paul is speaking about here.  It does not appear that he is speaking about people who have minor differences with leadership.  He is speaking about those, like the Judaizers and false teachers who have mounted a direct attack against Timothy and other leaders.  These men are actually being used of the devil, whether they realize it or not.    

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