For the week commencing 05 May 2019
Notes for next Sunday’s sermon on 2 Timothy 1:9-18 – Dear Timothy… Jesus has destroyed death
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 1:9-10
(You may like to read this week’s passage – 2 Timothy 1:9-18 – in its entirety each day this week.
At the end of last week’s passage we looked at Paul’s exhortation that not only ought we never be ashamed of the gospel, but we are to be ready to suffer for the gospel. Suffering for the gospel is a major theme in the letter.
But why? Why must we suffer for the gospel? Paul wants to remind Timothy of the gospel, so that he will both rejoice in it and be strengthened in his resolve to suffer for it if called upon to do so. The reason Paul was willing to lay down his life in this mission was that he believed the gospel was worth it! Christ was worth it! Paul found Jesus to be more desirable, enjoyable and beautiful than anything else. Said one commentator: “religious people find God useful, but cross-bearing disciples find him beautiful. You can endure suffering when you saw what Paul saw.”
Note that the gospel is all about what God has done. He has saved us, he called us to a holy life and he destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light. It is all his work and none of ours. And just in case we missed that point, Paul makes clear – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
We were lost and estranged from God because we had gone our own way, but he stepped in to rescue us and reconcile us to himself. That rescue was so that we might be called and enabled to live a holy life – a life separated out to be lived for him. This was God’s gracious purpose to be brought about through Jesus, since the beginning of time! And now, says Paul, that has been made absolutely clear through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We have been brought from death and darkness to life and light through the gospel!
How good is the good news? Why would we be timid about it? Why would we be ashamed of it? Why would we baulk at suffering for this amazing Good News?
DAY 2: Read 2 Timothy 1:11-12
In yesterday’s verses, Paul reminded Timothy – and us – of just how precious the gospel is. Entirely through God’s grace we have been saved and called to a holy life and Jesus has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light. Now Paul proclaims And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.
While salvation is entirely by God’s grace, people need to hear about it! God saves people through the proclamation of the good news. Hence Paul’s appointment as a herald, apostle and teacher.
As a herald, Paul announced the gospel. As an apostle, Paul was sent with the gospel. As a teacher, Paul explained the gospel. And for that gospel – because of that gospel – due to the offense of that gospel – Paul suffered! He suffered because he spoke boldly, and he spoke boldly, because he believed the gospel was worth it!
Paul wants to make clear to Timothy, that his suffering for the gospel is no cause for shame – either for Paul himself or Timothy his protégé. Paul is totally convinced about the good news of Jesus and that is because it is not just knowledge of a body of teaching, but knowledge of – relationship with – a person – I know whom I have believed. Paul is happy to leave his life and future in God’s hands because he is convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. So – convinced by the gospel and knowing God in a real and personal way and thereby assured that he can trust God with this life, any suffering he undergoes in the cause of the gospel, is no big deal. He is ultimately safe!
We had missionaries connected with Roseville church who worked in a difficult area of Johannesburg. I asked one day ‘aren’t you concerned for your safety?’ They answered, ‘there’s no safer place to be than in the centre of God’s will’. Paul would agree!!
DAY 3: Read 2 Timothy 1:13-14
Timothy has been exhorted to join with Paul in suffering for the gospel, he has been reminded what that gospel is and Paul has shared that he is a herald, an apostle and a teacher of that gospel. This gospel which is such good news that it is worth suffering for, must be guarded so that what he proclaimed remains true to that gospel.
Timothy was to stick to Paul’s outline of the gospel. He was not to make up his own pattern, nor add to it or take away from it. He was to take what Paul taught and teach it to others. There is no other gospel than the one Paul passed along to Timothy: the gospel contained in the Word of God.
Timothy was to be unashamed, bold and brave in gospel ministry, but he was also to be faithful to the gospel. Note once again, that it wasn’t just a body of truth Timothy was to keep under lock and key (or with a password). No, the gospel is relationship with Jesus and therefore that sound teaching Timothy has received with Paul must be kept with faith and love in Christ Jesus. At least part of the way Timothy was to keep it, was to live it out!
The word for ‘guard’ is used of protecting a palace from intruders and possessions from thieves. Because of the presence of false teachers, Timothy was called on to protect this beautiful gospel. Imagine if those entrusted with guarding the Mona Lisa – only exhibited outside the Louvre twice in the last century – decided that it was a little short on artistic merit and added a nice floral pattern to the border or updated Mona Lisa’s fashion to that of today? Those entrusted with the painting’s care have not been charged with improving the painting but protecting it in its original condition. How much more so, the Gospel!!
The Gospel is under threat in our day – sadly from both outside the church and from inside the church! Church leaders – indeed – every believer – shares in this charge to Timothy in some sense – to guard the good deposit which has been entrusted to us. But we do not share that charge alone. We have the help of God’s Holy Spirit!
DAY 4: Read 2 Timothy 1:15-18
What does being ashamed of the gospel look like? What does being unashamed of the gospel look like?
Paul mentions two men who deserted him. We know nothing about Phygelus and Hermogenes. Whoever they were, they obviously disappointed Paul. Apparently, they were just two among many. Why did they desert Paul? We are not told here, though later in the letter there are some others mentioned. Demas left ‘because he loved the world’. Following Jesus is hard. We can only guess, that a good part of the reason they deserted Paul was because they deserted Jesus! May this never be said of us! Or maybe, seeing Paul in chains for the gospel was too much for them. They may have been embarrassed that their leader was locked up or concerned that they would soon be arrested. We can’t know. But we do know Paul found it hard.
On the other hand, and in great contrast to the deserters, Paul mentioned Onesiphorus about whom he specifically says was not ashamed of my chains. In addition, he often refreshed Paul. He had gone out of his way to search for him in Rome. It was clearly a relationship Paul highly valued. Though Paul was a scholar, a preacher, a missionary (among other things), he was also a relational individual. The refreshment Onesiphorus brought may have been the meeting of some of his physical needs, but undoubtedly Paul was refreshed by his loyal support. Even though Paul was bound in chains, he wasn’t worried about that in the slightest. Onesiphorus represents what unashamed, sacrificial service looks like.
Here’s a challenge. When it comes to gospel faithfulness and loyalty to leaders, do we line up more with Phygelus and Hermogenes who were ashamed of the gospel and of their leader, or more with Onesiphorus who worked hard to refresh others? We are reminded that the Lord uses both leaders (such as Paul and Timothy) and encouragers (Onesiphorus). Both kinds of faithful servants are needed in God’s church!
Resources: 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