Paul's Goodbye Letter to Timothy, part 2

In general, it is wrong for us to assume the roles of people in the Bible.  I have often been taught that we should be like David fighting Goliath.  In in a sense, this isn't wrong.  Lord help us to have such faith, but it is perhaps more valuable to realize who we really are.  We are the cowardly crowd, terrified of Goliath, with no hope in the world.  David, in the story, represents Jesus, our savior, the hero of every story. Likewise, we want to be like Christ, which is entirely the correct ambition.  While we attempt to be Christ-like, we must realize who we really are:  the crowd chanting "crucify him."  Certainly, God has made believers a new creation, but God forgive us if we take any of the credit.  The Holy Spirit changes us, and as He does so, we must be careful not to take any credit for His work.  Instead, let us look only to the Lord.  We cannot focus too little on the ways in which God is working in us.  Our flesh is still present and delights in taking credit for the work of God.  All the glory is His.  Jesus is the hero of our story, in every way and every facet. Only He deserves glory.  "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith."

Of course, the New Testament is full of parables, stories, and letters, and these stories are meant for all of us.  As I study 2nd Timothy, I find myself reading as if the Apostle Paul was writing to me.  As Paul was discipling Timothy, so also the Holy Spirit has used him to disciple all those who love God's word.

The first verse in Chapter 2 is a command:  "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."  So what does this mean?  Does this mean to accept the grace of Jesus Christ?  Or to spread the grace of Jesus Christ?  I think it must mean both and more, to be completely dependent on God.  We are to give others the same unwarranted favor that we have been shown, and we are to accept the unwarranted favor God has given us every day.  We are completely dependent on His grace, and our lives should speak toward this grace in every way.  We are to be hard to offend, generous, kind, loving, hard working, and full of gratitude.  We have been given much, and, likewise, we should give much.  We been given the Son of God, a relationship with our Father, forgiveness of our sins, and even eternal life.

The next verse is a reminder for us to multiply.  We are not simply to internalize these words, but to teach others, and not any others, but reliable men who are qualified to teach as well.  All who claim to love Christ do not, and it is a wasted effort to try to teach those who do not have sincere interest.  Our disciples must be reliable, sincere, and interested in teaching others.  Herein lies the challenge:  are we this sort of disciple?  

Paul knows hardship is coming.  He is about to die.  So he writes to Timothy, "endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus."  Jesus said, "In this world, you will have suffering, take heart, I have overcome the world, " (John 16:33).  Paul here echoes this.  Do not give up, Timothy.  Do not give up, Ethan.

Continuing with the soldier metaphor, Paul instructs Timothy to have nothing to do with civilian affairs.  What exactly does this mean?  The NET Bible translates this "everyday matters."  The word everyday or civilian is bee'os in Greek, and it means "1) life 1a) life extensively 1a1) the period or course of life 1b) that by which life is sustained, resources, wealth" and affairs or matters is prag-mat-i'-ah in Greek which means "1) prosecution of any affair 1a) business, occupation."  This, it seems, is speaking of worldly things:  we are not to be preoccupied with anything other than the Gospel.  This gives us an opportunity to test ourselves:  With what do I spend my time?  What do I post about on Facebook?  What do I talk about with my friends?   With what are my thoughts consumed?  Paul is instructing Timothy to get his priorities straight:  Jesus is everything.     Later, Paul applies this to our speech, "Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly," before providing an example of two former disciples who now were preaching that the second coming had already come (2 Timothy 2:16-18).

Paul switches to another metaphor next, referring to award winning athletes and how they must obey the rules to be eligible to take the prize.  So must we obey the Lord and do the things required to win?  We must train, endure, and persevere.  We are to obey the rules God has set in order to win an eternal prize.

The last of this stream of metaphors speaks of the hardworking farmer which refers to ministers, apostles, and church leaders.  These men of God working to produce fruit (salvation) should be rewarded with a share of the crops (financially).   This fruit then is twofold, the farmer's work produces fruit (the elect) and the farmer also deserves his wages (support).

Paul encourages Timothy to reflect on the things which he has said thus far, and Paul continues with a challenging admonition.

"Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.  This is my gospel for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal.  But, God's word is not chained.  Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory,"  (2 Timothy 2:8-10).

Remember Christ.
Remember the resurrection.
Remember that he was descended from David (and thus validated as the Messiah, the one to come written of in the Hebrew Bible).

It is because of this that Paul willingly suffers and is imprisoned.  He suffers for the elect (authentic Christians) so that they might know Christ and share in eternal glory!  Paul suffered for us, and he sets himself as an example.  Previously, he called Timothy to endure.  Now, he writes of how and why he has endured.  Remember Jesus.  Remember the resurrection, the fulfillment of the law.

Paul refers to a common Christian saying which includes many promises of God:
"If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him,
if we disown him,
he will disown us;
if we are faithless,
he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself."

"Keep reminding them of these things," Paul reminds Timothy again, after previously stating this in verse 2.

Paul then encourages them against quarreling about words, because "it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen."  Paul reiterates this in v. 23-26 and continues with a solution.  "...instead, [the Lord's servant] must not quarrel, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Those who oppose him, he must gently instruct in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will."  

So why should we be involved in foolish arguments:  1.)  They are of no value 2.)  They only ruin those who listen.

How should we respond?  Be kind.  Teach.  Gently instruct.  We are not to argue, but instead, teach gently. Be bold.  Tell the truth, but do not entertain foolish arguments.  This does not mean that we should be silent, but, instead, gently instruct.

Paul tells Timothy to present himself "to God as one approved," and he continues this idea with two roles by which Timothy could accomplish this:
1.)  "a workman who does not need to be ashamed"- in other words, obey these words, be a soldier, be the athlete, be the farmer- fulfill these metaphors
2.) "[a workman] who correctly handles the word of truth"

In verse 19, Paul writes a challenging word that stands opposed to the teaching of many in this age:  "Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with the inscription, 'The Lord knows those who are his,' and , 'Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.'" Repentance is not optional, but the mark of a true disciple of Christ.  We cannot be transformed and stay the same.  This is not the mark of the Holy Spirit.  The light of Christ exposes our evil; we can cling to it or flee from it.  Salvation comes only when we flee.

The last part I will write on in verse 22-23 which reads, "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

I know mine:  Lust, money, power, popularity, independence, art, sports, intelligence.
What were your desires of youth?  Do you still pursue them?

Do I still pursue them?  Yes, all of them.  I still struggle with every sin, and while the Spirit has changed me and helped me flee to some extent, my flesh is slow to die.

I must be careful with my eyes and my wallet.  I must not seek to be glorified, but to glorify.  I cannot pay too little attention to how many people read this or how many "likes" I get on Facebook.  I should be wary of my own desires and instead lean on the Lords.  The music I listen to should not glorify me or sin, but, instead, glorify God.  The sports I watch or play should not become Lord over me.  My intellect is from the Lord and not something I have earned or even deserve.

I must flee from these things, and I should delight in doing so.  For the other side of the list is much better:  righteousness, faith, love, and peace.  Glory to God that these things are available, and Lord, help me to choose them on a daily basis. 


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