2 TIMOTHY – SERIES : NR 3
Theme : A good soldier of Christ
Scripture: 2 Timothy 2: 1 – 13
Timothy was the pastor of the church at Ephesus and there was a strong affection between the apostle Paul and Timothy. Paul was, after all, Timothy’s spiritual father. That is why he calls him “my son”.
But yet the apostle is also serious that Timothy should be strong – spiritually – but particularly also in the ministry. He CAN be strong because he is already included in the grace of God – God’s undeserved favour in Christ Jesus. Grace is God’s favour over people who deserves to be lost forever. But grace is also the power of God. We read that in 2 Cor 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness “.
There is therefore power in the grace of God. And it is this exact power that Timothy had to believe in and trust, and in that way be strong in the ministry.
Yes, it is God who works everything in us – as it says in Phil 2:13 – but it does not exonerate us from the responsibility and be active ourselves. Timothy had to EXERT himself to be strong in the power of the grace of God that was at work in his life. And not flag. Not become spiritually anaemic.
All that is written in verses 1-2. READ VERSES 1-2 AGAIN
The essence of being a true church is about the teaching of the doctrine of the apostles that have to be passed on from church to church, nation to nation and generation to generation. It works as follows:
The Lord Jesus was resurrected from the grave and He returned to His Father, but He left behind a couple of eyewitnesses – apostles – who received the Gospel message directly from Him. They have entrusted it to elders who had to teach it to others, and again to other elders to teach. The church spreads and grows through a process of delivery and protection of the original true message that came from the Lord.
That is exactly what Timothy had to do. That which he heard from the Apostle, he had to entrust to reliable men to again teach others. With the emphasis resting upon truth and faithfulness.
Our passion in 2022 should be to protect and pass on the doctrine of the apostles – exactly as it is written in the Scriptures – to others as true as possible.
READ VERSES 3-4 AGAIN
No Christian who strives to remain true to Christ and the Truth, and to be in and remain in His service, can expect a road of moonlight and roses. To the passionate and faithful Christ-witness, resistance awaits. The apostle Paul personally experienced it. And Timothy also.
Paul compares it with being a soldier. For Christ of course! And everyone knows that a soldier who is worth anything is not carried about on a bed of roses. Peculiar to the life of a soldier is what we call HARDSHIP. Not everyone is prepared to do this. The Christ-less world system wherein the Christ-believer functions are not always friendly towards the Lord and His followers.
Timothy sometimes wanted to give up. That is why his spiritual father had to urge him on.
A good soldier must not only be adept with the handling of weapons and ammunition but must also be prepared to suffer and be courageous in the face of death. Timothy, therefore, had to prepare himself to experience opposition and suffering for the sake of the Gospel message. And he had to remain faithful. And not be distracted by the things of daily livelihood. A soldier has to remain focused. The concerns of ordinary life can divide a soldier’s attention.
How easy the attention and time of a Gospel servant (Timothy was one) can be taken up by concerns of material matters and His calling as a soldier of Christ fall by the wayside? The same is true of all faithful Christians. A soldier has a commander who must be pleased. A Christian’s highest calling is to be available for Christ. Because he/she enjoys a privilege: You have been RECRUITED to serve Him – is what it says. Chosen, trained, selected, therefore. What you are, is by grace alone (1 Cor 15:10).
READ VERSE 5 AGAIN
The question is whether all the principles which Paul expounds on applies to us – particularly those who are not in the ministry the way Timothy was.
The answer is: Yes, it applies to all Christians because all true Christians are focused on the proclamation of the Word of God in the world. One is EITHER a missionary OR a mission object, someone once said. All Christians are therefore in some way or another ambassadors of the reconciliation (2 Cor 5:20).
The apostle compares the preaching of the Gospel message with three common examples: Those of a soldier, an athlete and a farmer.
An athlete who competes in a race must compete according to the rules at all costs. THEN he/she can receive the victor’s crown – the prize, therefore. If he should deviate from the rules or the set requirements in any way, he will be disqualified.
Paul is most probably thinking here about the Olympic games of his time and therefore professional athletes. The Greek word is LAWFULLY and not “according to the rules“ as it says in our translation. “In the correct way”, someone also translated it. It not only includes the race itself but also the training and everything beforehand.
Those days an athlete had to take an oath that they have undergone 10 months of training before they could take part in the Games. Therefore it is about discipline. Otherwise – what is your chance to win the prize? And how shall the standards at the Games not deteriorate? That is why athletes who transgressed were penalised so severely.
Self-discipline was therefore the watchword. Self-discipline concerning the spending of time, prayer, Bible study, time spent doing spiritual service, spiritual enrichment, etc. A Christian must not live an untidy life – just as little as a professional athlete can afford it.
READ VERSES 6-7 AGAIN
Here is the third example: A hardworking farmer. With the farmer, the emphasis is on hard work. Of course, not all farmers necessarily work hard, but the significance of a successful farmer is indeed hard work and dedicated labour. The Greek word used here is particularly focused upon the aspect of dedication.
It is a matter of course that the farmer who worked hard – for example – to harvest watermelons, shall eat of it HIMSELF and share with family and friends. But the farmer who did not work hard may in the end have nothing.
It may have been the case that Timothy wanted to follow Paul’s example and that he refused material and financial assistance and contributions, and often ended up without the necessities of life.
That is wrong, says the apostle. A hard worker is entitled to his wage. Like a farmer. If one would like to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and want to spread His Word with all your might, you must be prepared to bring your side, because preaching the Word is very demanding. Timothy had to realise that, and so too us today. Effort, self-discipline and self-denial are the watchwords.
There we have the three examples: Soldier, athlete, farmer.
Paul does not explain in detail what he means by each one but is confident that the Lord will make it clear to Timothy (and us) if we think about it for a while. By His Spirit God gives insight to His people, says 1 Cor 2: 10, 15. And He shall do it for YOU too.
READ VERSES 8-9 AGAIN
The deepest, greatest, most important and only incentive and motivation for a Christian believer to live wholeheartedly and persistently with the Lord and be a faithful witness, is the historical FACT that the Lord Jesus Christ physically rose from the grave.
Why does the Apostle now, at this point, after all the encouragement and admonishment of the previous verses say THESE words in verse 8?
Answer: Because it is the ESSENCE of everything, and it is the ESSENCE of the Good News message: Jesus is resurrected from the grave. He lives! It is not the central essence of the Gospel message, but it is the greatest driving force a Christian can have.
Jesus is a descendant of King David’s, in other words, a true and real MAN – to understand our humanly struggles 100% in how He associates Himself with us.
But He is also true GOD – and His resurrection is clear proof thereof.
Timothy – and us – must steadfastly hold on to this truth – then we shall know exactly how to deal with struggles and suffering because we are held up by the Godly assurance of the victory of the resurrected Lord.
It is the true and inerrant Gospel message which Paul preached – and like Timothy – he also suffered oppression for this living Christ, because the world hates the light.
Well, Paul might be sitting in chains, but the Word of God has wings. It is unfettered and – sent by the Spirit – the Word goes where God sends it. The voice of the Word can never be silenced. What a comfort and reason for anyone serious about the Word, to be excited.
READ VERSE 10 AGAIN
Take note of the THEREFORE at the beginning of verse 10. If one sees “therefore”, one should immediately ask WHY. Because THEREFORE indicates a REASON.
BECAUSE the Lord Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead and BECAUSE He is God and BECAUSE the Word cannot be chained, THEREFORE the Apostle Paul is prepared to suffer for the Gospel message. And to bear everything patiently.
This verse 10 is one of the jewels of the NT. Because it explains how the precious truth of the Divine election guarantee success in the preaching of the Word. READ VERSE 10 AGAIN.
Here is an indication of the elect who have not yet been saved, they have not yet received the salvation, but the apostle knows that they are there and that they shall be saved – by his ministry.
Before the creation already, God the Father unerringly gave His Son a bride (Eph 1:4). A chosen people out of all nations. Jesus came to earth with the specific purpose to reconcile with His Father THOSE specific people in His death on the cross. They are in other words present in humanity throughout the centuries, but they have not necessarily heard the Gospel message and they are not yet saved in Christ – they are still unrepentant. They have not yet received the eternal glory in their lives through faith-confidence-in-Christ.
But as faithful preachers and witnesses bring the Word, the Holy Spirit shall open their eyes, make them spiritually alive and lead them to the realisation of their sinfulness and repentance.
That is the assurance which we have that our witnessing SHALL bear fruit: the elect shall be saved – even if it is only a handful. We do not know beforehand who or where they are, but we know that they ARE there and the Holy Spirit shall use faithful witnessing and preaching of the Word to bring them to salvation.
Look what the Apostle is saying: “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too MAY obtain the salvation”. They do not yet have it but MAY obtain it. Future tense. They already ARE there and God knows who they are. That is Paul’s assurance and his security. And ours also.
READ VERSES 11-13 AGAIN
The entire thought of enduring everything for the sake of the elect obtaining the salvation in Christ Jesus brings a song to his mind – a familiar song of that time which puts into words a reliable word namely that even though there is suffering and affliction, a Christian nevertheless have a lot to look forward to. To a born-again person, there awaits a bright future.
If you are included in Christ’s death – as Romans 6 also say – then it is logical that you are also included in His resurrection and life. Look at the words: WITH HIM. That means: Included with. An inclusion that is worked by God. It is work performed by HIM.
There is a deep, God-worked mystical unity between the true believer and Christ Jesus. IN CHRIST the NT calls it.
Therefore if Christ died, the Christian already died IN HIM. If Christ rose from the dead, the Christian already rose IN HIM. And it already took place 2000 years ago – through the work performed by God.
THEREFORE one can endure all the ups and downs of life. THEREFORE we can keep on and on and persevere in faith-confidence. Because we are even included in Christ’s present reign at the right hand of God. (READ VERSE 12 AGAIN).
Of the Christ-believer three things are already true at the same time: INCLUSION with Christ in His death, resurrection and reign from the throne of God. And THAT results in perseverance, tenacity, and persistence.
But the opposite is just as true. It comes as a warning. People who are NOT included in Christ and refuse Him to the end shall also be refused by Him. That refers to those who remain unsaved until the end of their life and never come to repentance and faith-confidence-in-Christ. He is consequently true to Himself and shall refuse them in eternity.
It sounds as if the Apostle is talking about believers here because he is using the word WE. Surely it must be himself and his reader, Timothy. It sounds as if he is saying: “Timothy, me or you if we should one day deny the Lord, He shall deny us also”. In other words, it sounds as if he is saying that a child of the Lord might perhaps be lost in the end.
But no, that is not what he is saying.
Firstly: The Greek word “arnêomai” means to deny. To deny Christ. “I do not know Him”. That indicates total desertion. That is exactly what believers do not do!
Secondly: He uses the word “we” in a cautioning sense. In other words: There can be people who pretend to be part of the WE, but in reality, are not and at the end of the day it shall become obvious how they deny the Lord.
And the end of such false Christians? The Lord shall deny them also. Because He is true to Himself. He cannot deny who He is.
It is the reality of the eternal judgment in the Holy Scriptures – that must faithfully be preached to people – the way Paul does it.
Translated by Marthie Wilson