2 TIMOTHY – SERIES : NR 1
Theme : Liberated from fear
Scripture : 2 Timothy 1 : 1 – 7
2 Timothy is the very last letter written by the Apostle Paul. Shortly thereafter, he glorified his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by dying as a martyr in Rome. In John 21:19 Jesus told Peter ahead of time how he – Peter – shall glorify God with his death as a martyr. The death of a true child of God glorifies God – particularly the martyr’s death.
The letter we are now beginning to study was therefore the Apostle Paul’s very last writing.
READ VERSES 1-2 AGAIN
Yes, we might have guessed how he would start the letter. Not with all kinds of insignificant details. He immediately starts with the important things that need to be said. Firstly, he confirms his God-given authority as a lawful apostle (messenger). Timothy knew very well who/what Paul is, but the letter was also to be read to the church at Ephesus, where Timothy was the pastor. And THEY must not for a second have any doubt about the authority – apostolic authority – of the letter. It is the Word of God – end of the story.
The letter therefore had to be respected as Word that was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – CARRIED ALONG by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). And the Lord Jesus himself gave the command for this. By the will of God, Paul is what he is. And he is writing by the will of God.
That is saying so much to us who are living here in the 21st century and reading this letter. It says something about the attitude with which we should receive this letter in our hearts and lives. Because between the first readers and us there is no difference. Whatever applied to them, apply to us today. There simply is no other way to receive this letter (and the rest of the Scriptures). We must NEVER ascribe our own differences or assert ourselves above Scripture. It is EITHER complete obedience OR it is nothing!
The essence of what the Apostle preaches is THE (note the definite article) promise of eternal life which is an absolute reality in Christ Jesus.
In other words, the Gospel message comes to us as THE PROMISE. In the OT as the unfulfilled promise and the NT as the fulfilled promise. But the same promise. All preaching is therefore PROMISE PREACHING. The Bible is a unit since it has only ONE MESSAGE – the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Everyone who is in Jesus Christ may know that he/she has eternal life in Him! That is the essence of the whole Bible. Only that. Whoever embraces THAT in faith, shall walk away from the old things and will have LIFE! And whoever refuses that in unbelief, shall be lost.
For everyone whom the Father gave to Him before the creation, the Lord Jesus has fulfilled THE PROMISE in His virgin birth, His obedience, His innocent suffering, His death, His burial, His resurrection and ascension.
Yes, the fulfilled promise is there for EVERYONE who truly places their hope in Christ. Like a parachute one place your hope in when the aeroplane falls out of the sky. That is what faith in Christ is.
Timothy clung to Jesus in that way!
He was the Apostle’s spiritual child.
And the Apostle knew that his death was imminent. This is his last letter.
Therefore he wants to encourage his beloved spiritual son to continue with the work. Equipped with God’s free grace and mercy and supernatural peace.
Yes, ANY person who embraces the PROMISE OF THE GOSPEL like a parachute, IS always the subject of God’s grace and mercy and peace! Always. Always!
READ VERSES 4-4
We must understand this very well. Because Paul was an authentic APOSTLE, we hear in his words the Lord’s words and we see in his example the Lord’s heartbeat.
In his affection/goodwill towards Timothy, we see therefore the Lord Jesus Christ’s compassion towards His servant who was discouraged in his ministry at Ephesus. That is how the heartbeat of the Lord is. And it is reflected in the Apostle’s compassion.
Paul is so very grateful towards the Lord God for His grace (undeserved free favour) in Timothy’s life and ministry. And Paul regards Timothy as PART of God’s covenant of grace. He observes a continuity between his own (Paul’s) forefathers’ walk in faith and himself – although his parents were full-blooded Jews who did not know about Christ, they held on to God’s promise to Abraham that there is a Saviour on the way.
Paul himself – on the other hand – lived out of the fulfilled promise to Abraham, because he knew Jesus. He held onto the resurrection of Jesus. And the coming of Jesus was the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. The fulfilled covenant promise to Abraham is therefore the object of Paul’s faith. His parents held onto the PROMISE and he onto the FULFILLED promise. But it is essentially the same promise.
NOT the rigid orthodox Pharisees, but the OT-people who lived BEFORE the coming of Christ and who embraced (believed) the promise of the coming Messiah, were just as saved and delivered as the NT-believers who are living AFTER the coming of Christ (as Paul himself) and are embracing (believe) the fulfilled promise.
There never were two different ways in which people were saved before and after the coming of Christ. DAVID for example was not saved in a DIFFERENT way than a true Christian today in the 21st century. BOTH embraced God’s covenant promise in Christ. DAVID the unfulfilled promise and the 21st century Christian the FULFILLED promise.
Yes, Paul was in chains in Rome. But he had a clear conscience – he was not guilty of anything. Not guilty of anything??? How can it be? Was he then perfectly sinless? No, he was guilty of MANY things. And yet he was guilty of nothing. Because he was washed by the blood of Jesus Christ. It is the ONLY way to get a clear conscience. And die with a clear conscience!
The Apostle wanted only one thing: He wanted to serve the Lord Jesus Christ wholeheartedly right to the end. And he made work of it by praying for the young Timothy. As often as there was an opportunity.
O, he longed to see Timothy again. The bond that tied them, is enormously powerful. It is more powerful than any other inter-human bond.
The Apostle knew that his death was close. This would be his last letter. The last time they took leave of each other, Timothy cried bitterly. The Apostle was his spiritual father. Yes, the family ties that the blood of Christ Jesus create among believers, is a lot more powerful than the bond that ties natural blood-family among people who do not know the Lord.
READ VERSE 5 AGAIN
Observe how the content of this verse connects to verse 3 where the Apostle referred to himself – how he too came out of a covenant background. And now he is saying the same thing about Timothy. Because the mother and grandmother of Timothy – who was NOT an ethnic Jew – were Christ-believers.
Paul is so thankful for the sincere faith-confidence that lives in Timothy’s heart. “Sincere” means that Timothy was completely different to the false preachers. They also confess their faith, but it is false because the fruit it bears proves it.
In the same way that Paul could look back at forefathers who knew God, Timothy can also look at his mother and grandmother in whom the Holy Spirit had set the true faith on fire. Where only one of the parents is a Christ-believer, the children are set apart for the Lord (1 Cor 7:14). That child is within the climate and atmosphere of the covenant and under the influence of prayer and Word and church. The promise of Abraham (as fulfilled in Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit) is indeed meant for believers AND their children (Acts 2:38-39).
The Lord God undoubtedly works through generations and in this we again see the continuity and advance/progress of God’s grace-covenant.
Timothy’s father is not mentioned because he was a Greek and probably never came to faith in Christ. But with a Christ-believing mother and grandmother, Timothy was – from God’s side – and according to the promise – included in the covenant according to 1 Cor 7:14. Of course, he personally also had to come to repentance and faith-confidence in Christ. The promise has to be accepted. It was probably Paul himself that guided him in that. This is why he calls Timothy his spiritual child.
Children of believers are included in the covenant and part of the church and congregation and are certainly not heathens, but they are also not automatically born-again. The Word of God calls up everyone to make a personal faith decision.
Although Timothy probably came to faith at Lystra and received assurance of salvation during Paul’s first missionary journey, we see from Paul’s words that Timothy owed much to his mother and grandmother’s instruction.
The Apostle does not doubt the sincerity of Timothy’s salvation. In him lives the true faith in the deliverance of the cross of Christ. But, because of the Apostle’s imprisonment, Timothy has become discouraged. Therefore Paul reminds him about his mother and grandmother’s faith-confidence despite difficult circumstances. That is the persevering trust which IS present in Timothy’s heart. Paul is convinced of that.
READ VERSE 6 AGAIN
The young Timothy was only human and he needed encouragement. He was inclined to become afraid (1 Cor 16) and may have wanted to move from Ephesus to an easier workplace (1 Tim 1:3).
With fatherly care, the Apostle encourages him. The spiritual privileges he enjoyed as well as his divine calling, had to propel/drive him forward. The gift of grace in him, must not fade away. When he was set apart for the ministry by the church and elders at Lystra (Acts 16), and the elder laid hands upon him (1 Tim 4), the Apostle Paul also took part in the ceremony.
Laying on of hands is not a magical act with and through which Holy Spirit-gifts were transferred over onto people. It was symbolic. It was symbolic of the confirmation that it is the LORD who have given Timothy certain gifts for the ministry. The laying on of hands was only the visible affirmation of
If the Lord calls, then He also equips. God’s gifts are not about personal aggrandizement, but about the effective service to others.
The laying on of hands was a sign of assurance to Timothy: God HAS equipped you, therefore do not doubt.
But, Timothy had to “fire up” these gifts. Like a dying ember that must be fanned into flame.
Just the same as the flame of the Holy Spirit can be extinguished (1 Thess 5:19), so are the gifts of the Spirit that can be extinguished if it is not cared for. Timothy’s state of mind has – for example – smothered the reality of God’s gifts in him.
Now it had to be fired up again through prayer and renewed trust/faith and a conscious decision to go live it out.
It is wonderful to know that I do not need NEW gifts of the Holy Spirit again and again and again. Whatever He ONCE bestowed, He never takes back again (Rom 11:29).
I can once more go and consciously live out of what I already have by grace. Renewed prayer and devotion and serious dealing with sin, quickly brings a new awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
READ VERSE 7 AGAIN
These words are not meant to admonish Timothy. Rather encourage him.
As a man – in his personality – this servant of the Lord – Timothy – inclined to be fearful and timid – BUT it should not impede the performance of his ministry. Because of rebirth, the Holy Spirit gave Timothy a spiritual gift that is NOT cowardly or afraid. Even though his personality tends in that direction, the Holy Spirit of Christ is stronger. Timothy is already equipped by Him. Whoever is born-again, as a Christ-believer, IS equipped. Equipped with inner strength. It is not a FEELING. It must be BELIEVED – because God says so.
God’s promise must be embraced. A Christian does not live by feelings, but by faith-confidence which is anchored upon God’s words of promise. And faith does not grab some or other idea out of thin air. It is based upon God’s words of promise – black on white in the Bible and personally demonstrated at the baptism and communion.
It is a given fact: The Holy Spirit does not cause a Christian to fear or be cowardly.
Something similar is written in Romans 8:15. The inner strength that the Holy Spirit gives, enable us to give guidance and to remain standing in difficult circumstances.
In addition, He helps us obey God with self-denial and service to others. The Holy Spirit is indeed the Spirit of self-control. The Christian, therefore, has full control over his/her body and spirit – even though it is HARD. The truth is: if you are a Christ-believer, you HAVE self-control.
The wonder is that these attributes are not out of self, but it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Where He is present, He produces this living fruit – which is nothing but the life of the Lord Jesus Christ himself.