Verse 1. "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus,"
In our sermons for the next few weeks, we'll be focusing on the second Letter of the Apostle Paul to the man he thought of as his "son," a younger pastor named Timothy. It's a letter sent not only to Timothy, but to all of us all as well, because of the intention, the will and the love of God's Holy Spirit. Paul, the human writer, wrote this letter during what is considered to be his second Roman imprisonment and he knew that he would not survive it, as it can be seen in 2 Timothy 4:6. Timothy was likely in Ephesus at the time he received this letter (1:18, 4:19) and Paul hoped the younger man would soon be traveling to Rome.
In Verse 1, the writer openly displayed his credentials as he often did, giving readers his name, title and the authority under which he wrote. He had previously gone by his Hebrew name of "Saul" and under that name he had become the enemy of the Lord he thought he served, by attacking God's people (Acts 8:1 & context). He then was transformed by the loving power of the Lord (Acts 9) and notice that the man's ministry became "by the will of God" as all true ministry must be. And finally it is important to see that our faith, our calling, is "according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus." This is not some mere religious belief in a set of rules expressed through outward obedience, but instead we are changed inside; we are given "LIFE" in and through our risen Lord.
Verse 2. "To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord."
The suggestion in these epistles (letters) and in Church history is that Paul never married, but some have noticed that here he does address the younger man, Timothy, as his "beloved son." Timothy's name meant "revere God" or "honoring God," by the way, and he likely was brought to faith in the Lord during Paul's first missionary journey, especially as it relates to Acts 14:6-23. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:17 that Timothy "is my beloved and faithful son IN THE LORD..." Timothy was LIKE a son to Paul, who had led this young man to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul often greeted his readers and listeners with his hope that they would know the "grace" of God, which was "Charis," a word taken from the secular Greek and found about 150 times in the New Testament, where it was typically the loving favor of God, bestowed on those who do not deserve it. "Mercy," the Greek word, "eleos," is the rich helping the poor, the insider admitting the outsider and it is God giving His Son to those who previously had no hope. "Peace" is the Greek word, "eirene," used in the Early Church much like the Hebrew word, "Shalom," conveying the idea of giving someone the blessing of safety and security.
Verse 3. "I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,"
Is your conscience clear? Do you love the Lord with all your heart? If so, what is your motive? Do you want to serve others through the gifts He has given to you? Why do you want to do that? If you had to choose between a need for personal significance, what people think of you, and God's will for you and others, what would be the REASON for your actions? Paul told those in the church to "Examine yourselves" (2 Corinthians 13:5) - We are to look at why do we do what we do, and if we act from some merely human motive, we must go to the Lord, seeking forgiveness and healing.
Alan Redpath responded to that verse in 2 Corinthians with over 20 questions, including, "Am I creating the impression I'm a better person than I am?... Am I honest?... Do I exaggerate?... How do I spend my spare time?... Am I proud?... Am I a grumbler?..." and more. Do we serve God "with a clear conscience" as Paul did at the time of this verse in 2 Timothy? One way to find assurance that we are in this for the Lord and for His people; not merely in it for ourselves, is to look at Paul's statement about Timothy that, "I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day." Alan Redpath asked another question: "Am I enjoying prayer?" Those who love the Lord will find themselves becoming men and women of prayer. As it was for our "forefathers" in the faith, it will be with us.
Verse 4. "longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy."
How deeply do you care for others? Do you still love them even when they have caused you some kind of harm? It's important that we keep in mind the words of Scripture about our attitudes and actions. We are to "love one another" (John 13:34-35). You are to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18). And it's important to note that Jesus repeated those words to a man in Mark 12:31, which is His very important call to us all: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." And lest we think that we can somehow do this in our own strength, He told us to "love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44). Forgiving and loving enemies is impossible for people, but it is made possible for us, in and through God Himself.
Look at the way the two men in this verse in Timothy felt about one another: They were simply men who utterly loved one another in a healthy manner. Paul openly expressed the need in his heart that he was "longing to see" the younger man, Timothy, and he said, "I recall your tears," remembering the emotions that filled both of them when they had to part. And merely to see the young pastor would cause Paul to "be filled with joy." Looking at the faces of many people attending churches today, we tend to see very little of what might be called, "continuing joy." Perhaps our joy in life is small because our love is small, too.
Verse 5. "For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well."
Elsewhere, Paul spoke of the love that God places within us in this manner: "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things..." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Something very similar could be said of "faith" which is the gift of God to those who believe. Love is even greater than faith (1 Corinthians 13:13), but "without faith it is impossible to please (the Lord)" (Hebrews 13:6).
Jesus is "the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). Like a seed planted in a field, producing a crop that will feed many people, faith is authored in those who are willing to believe; and the Lord Himself will bring that crop, that faith to maturity in us. He will FINISH in and through us the race that has begun. And it's important to see that the Bible we are studying is a very important factor in the growth of faith within us: "Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). The words we read and absorb through the written Word of God will increase our faith in God. "Lois," by the way, who was Timothy's grandmother, and "Eunice," who was his mother, are mentioned by name here, but nowhere else in Scripture. Paul was a witness to their faith and the Lord Himself is a witness to yours.
Father, let the kind of faith that lived in Paul, Timothy, Lois and Eunice, live in us today. We ask Your help, that we might have a vital, active trust in the Risen Lord which will bring us into eternity with You, and also influence others to have such faith as well. Give us lives full of a clear conscience, and let our love for one another be as real as that which existed between Paul and Timothy. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Audio Study - 2 Timothy 1:6-10
Kindle Afresh the Gift of God
Verse 6. "For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands."
"Use it or lose it" remained a popular expression in the late 20th Century, and it was applied to both mental and physical activities. What we have received from God, such as our muscles, should be used if possible or they will atrophy. Most people do not even recognize that God gives additional abilities through His Holy Spirit to those who will receive them, but He does, and Timothy is encouraged here to USE the "gift of God," lest it atrophy within him. Timothy's "gift of God" is not specified, which is just as well because this warning, this concern applies to all who have trusted in the Lord and have received the various gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are to use what we have been given.
If you have been given a gift of what is called "healing," then keep on praying for the sick, for your gift will grow stronger as it is used and people will be restored. Many of the gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians Chapters 12 and 14, with a break in between, showing us in Chapter 13 that the greatest gift of all is the agape "love" of God in us. Listed in Chapter 12 are, "wisdom... knowledge... faith... healings... miracles... prophecy... discerning of spirits... tongues... (and) interpretation of tongues" (1 Corinthians 12:4-10). The gifts take differing forms in different people, and it is likely that each one of us is uniquely gifted, and all of us are absolutely necessary to all others in the body of Christ. So whatever God has gifted you with, "kindle afresh" that gift and use it for the glory of God.
Verse 7. "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline."
Actually, the "spirit of timidity" seems to be strangely prevalent in our churches of today. Where currently are the gifts of God mentioned by Paul in Verse 6? Imitations of them abound, but where are the real gifts? Paul had prayed for Timothy, who, as a result received a "gift of God" as a response to the prayerful "laying on of (Paul's) hands" on the younger man. We do not directly know through the context of these verses what that gift might have been, but the fact is, there were many gifts in operation in the church of that time which are not seen today. How often has "discerning of spirits" been used in your church? The answer to the question, "Where did they go?" maybe at least partly due to the fact that most of them are "low-key" in nature and usually not seen by others, but also due to the "timidity" of those in today's church.
Paul is giving us a look at the OPPOSITE of "timidity," which he referred to as "power and love and discipline." The Greek word for "discipline" here can also be translated as "saving the mind" or a "sound mind." Now, none of the three, power, love and a sound mind can be made ours through our own strength and abilities. Paul observes the human tendency toward "timidity," whereas "power and love and discipline" are given to us by God. As is true of all that is given by the Lord, there are indeed imitations of these qualities, but what we need, what the world needs, is that which is directly from the Throne of God to those who have faith in the Lord, through His Holy Spirit.
Verse 8. "Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,"
There are two areas of our Christian walk through life in which we can become confused: 1) The Gospel, the Good News about the Lord can be a stumbling block for those who don't fully understand what was done for us as individuals and for humanity; and 2) We can study the lives of Christians we know or hear about and become very troubled because of what they have done and what has happened to them. In the first place it is clear that our Leader, Jesus the Christ who is the "Gospel" incarnate, died the death of a common criminal. Some have stumbled because of the nature of His death. Note that lots of people have died in such a manner, but His was utterly different because it was the only death in human history that offers LIFE to all who place their faith in the One who died and rose again.
Paul was fully aware that some are ashamed, as seen in this verse and in places like Romans 1:16, where he cried out, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." Our part is merely to TRUST in what the Lord has done. Paul continued in Romans 1:17, "For in it (the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.'" And we can be put-off by the people who are often called "Christians." Many have become role models for others and then have fallen. Paul did nothing wrong, but was in prison and many were disturbed by what had happened to him. Let's give one another the freedom to repent of what we or they have done, and as to those like Paul who are wrongly convicted by society, by the church, or by our own attitudes, let's become willing to receive them, to surround them with the love of God that is supposed to be in us.
Verse 9. "who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,"
Many have been blessed through the centuries by the words of Ephesians 2:8-9, which says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." We can all breathe a sigh of relief as we read those words and the words of this verse originally written to Timothy, because it is written that we do not have to strive or work to be saved. Our attitudes are the basis of our outward actions, and all of us have had thoughts that would disqualify us from the kingdom of God. As Paul pointed out in another place, "ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
"Works" do not save us, but when we place our faith in the Lord and let Him into our lives, the good works do begin to happen. That can be seen in Ephesians 2:10, where Paul continued, "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." God has "His own purpose" for us, and He gives us "grace, which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity." The Lord established a blueprint, a plan for each of our lives before we were ever born and when we relax and let ourselves trust in Him, He will bring that blueprint to pass in our lives.
Verse 10. "but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,"
There is so much grief in the world because of death, a humanly irreversible ending for every one of us. It takes those we love, one-by-one, and then we, too, are swept into its grip. "Fear of death" keeps all humanity in bondage, for we have all become its slaves as you can read in Hebrews 2:15. These verses in 2nd Timothy are extremely important because we are shown how we can be released from death altogether. It's as though we are in a crowded theater and someone shouts "Fire, Fire!" We don't want it to be true, but we can smell the smoke and people are running.
And then through the darkness we see the neon sign that says, "Exit." There is a way out and what we must do is go through that door. Our "Exit" door is "our Savior Christ Jesus who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." As Jesus Himself said, though His listeners at the moment did not understand His words, "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved..." (John 10:9). If at this moment you simply allow yourself to have the faith that the "Exit" door offered in Christ will take you to safety, then "death" WILL be "abolished" for you. Your body may die for a time, but you will live. Will you trust in the Lord?
Thank You, Lord, for when You saw our condition, You did not turn Your back on us or destroy us, but came to us, responded to our need and died a terrible death in our place that gives us life. We confess our sins, and ask that You will forgive us. Save us, Lord; we trust in You now. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Audio Study - 2 Timothy 1:11-14
I Am Not Ashamed
Verse 11. "for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher."
None of us deserve to be a "preacher and an apostle and a teacher" of the good news about our Lord. Paul, the writer of these words in the Letter we call "2nd Timothy," would be the first to agree that he did not deserve such an honor. Paul's Hebrew name was "Saul," and Dr. Luke wrote about him in Acts 7:3 - "As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison." Paul recalled every negative thing he had ever done, but knew forgiveness in Christ and saw that he was in the ministry because of the grace of God. Actually, NONE of us deserve anything from the Lord. We all need the "grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," as observed by Paul in Verse 2 of this chapter. He needed the Lord and we do, too. He was changed, he was "born again" as the Lord said in John 3:3,7, and subsequently he was "appointed" by God to such offices. And that's the way it is meant to be for all who would serve the Lord.
The word for "preacher" in this verse is the Greek "kerusso," which is to "herald" or "proclaim," and the reference here is to proclaim to others the good news about the redemption offered in Jesus Christ. An "apostle" is someone sent on a mission. A king would send an ambassador or emissary to another country on a mission for the king. The word for such an ambassador was "apostolos" in the Greek, or as many say it today: "apostle." "Christ Jesus" is called "the Apostle and High Priest of our confession" in Hebrews 3:1. A "teacher" is just what you would expect - someone gifted by God and sent by Him to teach, to proclaim the "Gospel," which is how Paul began this statement with the words of Verse 10.
Verse 12. "For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day."
Do you really KNOW the One in whom you have believed? Paul KNEW the Lord, but outwardly he was also a prisoner. His body was bound, but inside he was free. To be found guilty of a crime, though, has never been thought of as a positive experience. Most who have been in prison are ashamed of what has happened to them and they will not easily discuss that part of their lives with others. It was God's will for Paul that he would "suffer these things," but he continued, "I am not ashamed." He had done nothing wrong. Peter commented about such events: "Let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter" (1 Peter 4:15-16).
Most people want what is called an "easy life." That state of being is thought of as a life containing safety, sufficient money, good health, a nice place to live, a bright mind and a good reputation. Paul had something that others through the centuries did not have: His life had been given over to the Lord like most, before or since, could not, cannot, will not do. Our Lord has much higher purposes for us than we can forsee or even understand. He intends that others will see how we have lived and be drawn to trust in the Lord. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians said, "All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household" (Philippians 4:22). Paul's imprisonment had surprisingly brought many to the Lord, even among those who lived deep within the city of Rome; even in the household of Caesar himself.
Verse 13. "Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus."
The actual Greek language of Verse 13 is more like this: "For your own guidance in teaching the flock committed to you, and for a pattern which you will try and always copy, have before you the pattern or outline of sound words which you have heard of me in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." That is the way it was taught by the Rev. Joseph S. Exell, co-author of "The Pulpit Commentary." And indeed the words of Paul the Apostle do lead us to a deeper "faith and love which are in Christ Jesus" than we could possibly have ever known about otherwise.
I have been astonished through the years to occasionally run into someone who ostensibly accepts and loves the Lord Jesus and yet rejects the words of Paul. The Holy Spirit of God has given us so MUCH through Paul the Apostle and it is incredible that someone thinks he or she knows the Lord and yet rejects the letters written by this man of God. After all, as we can read in Acts Chapter 9, it was Jesus Himself who overturned the life of this Saul a.k.a. Paul, and brought him to God. And it was the Lord who told the reluctant Ananias in a vision to go to Paul and lay hands on him so that the man would regain his sight (Acts 9:11 & forward). The Lord said to Ananias, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel." We are to "retain the standard of sound words" of men like Paul the Apostle.
Verse 14. "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you."
Everyone of us is to "put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places..." (Ephesians 6:10-18). We are not in any way capable of resisting the devil or his minions in our own strength. Such creatures do want to steal from us what we have, but we cannot successfully "guard" against or attack anyone or anything in the supernatural realm, because we are just people. There is an exception however: We can do whatever is needed, "through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us."
if you have trusted in the Lord, you have been given a vast and infinitely valuable "treasure," when your heart is truly His. In accepting Him, the Holy Spirit of God is planted deep inside, and no matter what your station in life or your outward appearance may be, this treasure will be seen and wanted by others. "We are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing..." (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). No matter how limited you may think your resources are, you as a Christian man or woman are valuable and useful to God for He has placed His beloved Holy Spirit deep into your very being. He is the one who will keep you safe - forever.
Help us, Lord, to not be ashamed of those You have placed into our lives. Give us the desire and the means to instead reach out to them, listen to them and provide the comfort that only comes from God. Help us to care for the person instead of merely looking at their outward circumstances. Send us to others, Lord, and give us the courage to reach out and touch those who are in need. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Audio - 2 Timothy 1:15-18
He Refreshed Me
Verse 15. "You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes."
"Phygelus" is a personal name best translated by the English word, "fugitive" which may be a nickname relating to his character or his actual name. The other one named in this verse is "Hermogenes" which meant "born of Hermes" or "sprung from Hermes," referring to the name of a so-called Greek "god." Many Romans worshiped that mythological creature under the name, "Mercurius." Hermes was considered to be a messenger of the gods and was associated with eloquence in speech. Paul had been mistakenly thought to be Hermes by the people at Lystra after he performed a notable miracle of healing (Acts 14:12 & context).
Phygelus and Hermogenes are not seen elsewhere in Scripture, unless they appear under different names, which is possible since people of that time often went by a second or even a third name, as many do today, and in addition men were referred to as "son of" their father's name. The contrast here between the two men of this verse and Onesiphorus who is named in the next verse is no accident. The men in this verse were apparently ashamed of the chains of a criminal that were worn by the Apostle Paul, whereas Onesiphorus was not put off by his outward situation. He responded to the godly man instead of focusing on Paul's limitations.
Verse 16. "The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains;"
The name "Onesiphorus" meant "profit bearing" and the man had certainly become profitable to the Apostle Paul. The context of this section suggests that the place the man left behind in order to help Paul was the city of Ephesus, as suggested by Verse 18. The man went out of his way to help the Apostle Paul. Even today, a trip from modern Turkey, where the ruins of Ephesus are located, to Rome, would be something of a journey, but in those times the man performed a life-changing, life-giving personal sacrifice for another man.
When we think of refreshment, we generally think of something like a cool beverage on a hot day, and refreshment would typically be about ourselves, not in relation to someone who might be half a continent away. Actually it was literally about another continent for Onesiphorus, who left Ephesus in Asia and sailed to Italy which is in Europe. "He... refreshed me," means that he brought continuing conversation, friendship, a listening ear and more to a lonely man whose friends had mostly deserted him. It is said that most of those who are prisoners and most elderly persons in convalescent or nursing homes NEVER have a visitor. To visit such a person is to refresh them, and as it was for Onesiphorus who was able to listen to Paul, he no doubt was refreshed himself. Think about who you can refresh and - go to them.
Verse 17. "but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me -"
In Verse 8 we read the words of Paul to the younger pastor named Timothy: "Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner." Here in these verses we find the man, Onesiphorus, who was not ashamed of Paul or the literal chains Paul was forced to bear. In fact, Onesiphorus sought Paul out by traveling hundreds of miles to see him and then visited him in jail often. Since it seems apparent that Paul was shunned by many who had previously traveled with him, Onesiphorus was able to have many lengthy one-on-one visits with one of the greatest men of God in history.
Can you imagine? What would it be like to be able to speak the language and travel through time and space to be with the Apostle Paul - even once! And this man likely was with him every day. Onesiphorus took a continuing risk because the Roman authorities could have arrested him at any time for his relationship with Paul, a man considered to be an enemy of the Empire, but he continued to visit. If you are given the opportunity to be with a prisoner or someone who is sick or merely lonely, go do it. And don't do all the talking, but also LISTEN, for you are in the presence of a unique human being who may have something to say that will change YOUR life for the good in ways you do not expect. Ask them where they were born and ask them about their lives. They have a story to tell.
Verse 18. "the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day - and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus."
Notice the use of the past tense in relation to Onesiphorus, as seen in Verses 16-18. In Chapter 4 Verse 18, we can read the words, "Greet... the household of Onesiphorus." The way these verses were originally written has suggested to some that the man came from Ephesus, traveled down the Aegean Sea, and sailed onward to eventually reach the city of Rome, where he met with the Apostle Paul in the prison he was in during that long moment in time. And then at some point Onesiphorus died.
The phrase, "the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day," has meant to many a reference to the return of the Lord Jesus when He gathers His people to Himself, suggesting that the man had already departed this earth and was awaiting the Lord's return. We don't know for sure but the language used by Paul in this place would suggest that possibility. Certainly Paul was grateful for the man's presence in his life and note that he responded by praying that "The Lord (would) grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus." This of course meant that Paul was asking the Lord to bring salvation in Christ Jesus to all whom Onesiphorus had loved in this life.
Lord, help us to become the kind of people who want to bring refreshment to others, and then provide opportunities so that we may actually do it. Open our eyes, minds and hearts so that we will see the need and we pray that those we serve will be blessed that You have sent us. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen.