For the week commencing 28 April 2019
Notes for next Sunday’s sermon on 2 Timothy 1:1-8 – Dear Timothy… do not be ashamed of Jesus
Our Term 2 series takes us through Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Here is the outline:
05 May … Do not be ashamed of Jesus 2 Tim 1:1-8
12 May … Jesus has destroyed death 2 Tim 1:9-18
19 May … be strong in Jesus’ grace 2 Tim 2:1-13
26 May … God approves 2 Tim 2:14-26
02 June … there will be terrible times 2 Tim 3:1-9
09 June … all Scripture is God-breathed 2 Tim 3:10-17
16 June … preach the word 2 Tim 4:1-8
23 June … the Lord stood at my side 2 Tim 4:9-22
DAY 1: Read 2 Timothy 1:1-8
Welcome as we begin a new series in this wonderful letter of the Apostle Paul to the emerging leader Timothy. You will benefit from reading the whole letter in a sitting and getting an overview of where we are heading in this series. Today, I want to give you some background to the letter and then in the remaining days of this week we will begin work on the text.
The letters 1 and 2 Timothy, along with Paul’s letter to Titus, are known as the “The pastoral epistles”. They culminate Paul’s ministry and seek to perpetuate his legacy and ensure the continuity of faithful gospel ministry for subsequent generations. The second letter to Timothy is probably Paul’s last and is the most personal of the three letters. The letter constitutes a moving tribute to the passion and intensity for preaching the gospel that fuelled Paul’s ministry until his final hour. He speaks of guarding the gospel (Ch 1), suffering for the gospel (Ch 2), continuing in the gospel (Ch 3) and proclaiming the gospel (Ch 4).
Paul is writing this during a second imprisonment in Rome. Unlike his first imprisonment in which he stayed in his own rented house (Acts 28:30), Paul is now suffering ‘to the point of being bound like a criminal’ (2 Timothy 2:9). As a result, he anticipates shortly ‘being poured out as a drink offering (4:6)’.
Timothy was younger than Paul, possibly in his thirties, and described in Paul’s first letter as his ‘true son in the faith’ (1 Timothy 1:2). He had assisted Paul in a number of different ministry contexts (1 Thess 3; 1 Cor 4:16-17, 16:10-11 and Phil 2:19-24).
Timothy is now on assignment in Ephesus and the letter includes specific instructions on how to deal with problems there. He was charged with the difficult work of combating false teaching and leading the church in godly living. Paul goes on to urge Timothy to join him in Rome, as many of his associates have abandoned him. The continuation of Paul’s ministry will rest on Timothy’s shoulders. As Paul confronts his end in this world, he wants to ensure the gospel itself is preserved and proclaimed. There are real opponents to the gospel who have distorted the truth and seek to use the gospel for personal gain.
Well here we are 2,000 years later. In some ways we live in a similar context to that of Paul and Timothy in the 1st century. Christians are ridiculed and killed, false teachers within the church lead people astray and many trivial arguments over words, tie good people up from actually doing good! Let’s ask the Lord to equip us, strengthen us, refresh us and inspire us as we spend time in this letter. This letter is both timeless and timely. For what can be more important today than to rightly guard and proclaim the gospel to the next generation? It is often said we are a generation away from losing the gospel. If the gospel is assumed in one generation, it will be neglected, ignored and/or abandoned in the next! We must keep guarding, suffering for, continuing in, and proclaiming the gospel!
DAY 2: Read 2 Timothy 1:1-2
There is obviously a warm personal relationship between Paul and Timothy. He calls him in v2, his ‘dear son’. He knows of his mother and grandmother and the influence they have had on him (1:5).
The opening words reflect most letters of the time and are very similar to those found in 2 Timothy. Paul states his office (apostle of Jesus Christ), the fact that he was appointed by God (by God’s will) and that these are in accord with God’s promises. By claiming this appointment, he places himself among those who were selected by Jesus as apostles. He was sent by the Master with unique apostolic authority to teach in Jesus’ name. So we need to note that this letter comes to us with divine authority. It is not just a letter to Timothy, but a word to us – to all Christians, in all times and places. All of Paul’s great work as an apostle, was made possible by the enabling grace of God, “Yet not I, but God’s grace was with me (1 Corinthians 15:10).
His appointment was in line with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus. That is what the gospel is all about! God promises life! As Paul awaited death, he claimed the promise of life for those who are in Christ Jesus. We will see in next week’s passage, Paul’s words that Jesus has ‘abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel’.
Paul viewed Timothy as his own spiritual child – ‘dearly loved son’. See Philippians 2:20 and 22 when Paul commends Timothy so warmly to the Philippians, sharing that ‘he has served with me in the gospel ministry like a son with a father’. The “grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord”, is that for which Paul prays for his dear ‘son’. For whom will you pray such rich blessings today?
DAY 3: Read 2 Timothy 1:3-5
We see here the depth of the connection between Paul and Timothy. He thanks God warmly for him. Thanking God was something all Jews did over time, so Paul is entirely consistent here. He does so with a clear conscience because he knows his sin has been dealt with. As he thanks God for Timothy, he can’t help but also pray for him. Note the reference here to praying ‘night and day’. Paul’s devotion to prayer is a challenge to me – perhaps to you also? Though imprisoned in harsh conditions, he still had important work to do – praying for and writing to Timothy. Are you housebound? Are you limited now in active service for the Lord? You can still pray! And perhaps write! Pray for our church and its leaders; pray for Noosa and for the spread of the gospel. Pray that we will glorify God by making disciples as we love and serve Noosa.
Note also the deep longing to see Timothy, remembering perhaps, the tears with which they last parted company. Timothy not only had the privilege of a godly mentor in Paul but also a godly family heritage. Paul can see that Timothy’s sincere faith was at least in part, the result of that which lived in both his mother and grandmother. What a beautiful picture here – and a wonderful encouragement for us if we be parents and grandparents, to ensure we are committed to teaching our families the Bible and leaving them the legacy of a ‘sincere faith’. What greater desire could we have for our children and grandchildren? Perhaps you need to be more intentional and more prayerful, so that your sincere faith, will also be seen in your family.
DAY 4: Read 2 Timothy 1:6-8
As Paul begins this letter, he is setting the context for all the instruction which will follow. So he encourages Timothy to ‘rekindle’ or ‘fan into flame’ the gift of God. Had Timothy’s zeal waned? Timothy is about to take up Paul’s ministry – he needed to renew his passion for serving God. The ‘gift’ may be the ministry responsibility entrusted him at his ordination (see 1 Tim 4:14), or it may be a reference to the Holy Spirit or a combination of the two. In the face of timidity (v7) or persecution (v8), rekindling the gift will help Timothy overcome and persevere. Paul is urging Timothy to keep the fire alive – indeed ablaze – by making full use of it. There is no room for sluggishness in the Christian life. Rest? Yes. But laziness, passiveness and timidity should not characterize the believer.
You are not called to the same ministry as Timothy. But the Lord has gifted you uniquely for a ministry among the body of Christ and in the world. Are you using your gifts passionately? Timothy was timid or fearful about something – but Paul points out that that doesn’t fit with the gift of the Spirit he has given us.
Perhaps his timidity was a result of Paul’s imprisonment and fear that he also would be arrested and imprisoned! So Paul encouraged him (v8) not to be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or ashamed of Paul as one (as it were), imprisoned by the Lord! While many were scoffing at both the gospel and at Paul, Paul urges Timothy by contrast, to join with him in suffering for the gospel. This becomes a major theme in the letter to which Paul will return. And here is a challenge for us. No, we are not Timothy and we live in an entirely different context. However, might it be possible, that we are timid about the gospel and would do anything, to avoid ever having to suffer in any way for the gospel?
Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (Christ-centered Exposition Commentary) by David Platt
Commentary on 1-2 Timothy by Andreas J.Kostenberger, in the Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series