For the week commencing 12 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 2:1-2
(You may like to read this week’s passage – 2 Timothy 2:1-13 – in its entirety each day this week.)
Because the passage starts “you then”, there is an obvious link to what Paul has just been talking about. So you will remember that Paul sadly recounted that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me (with the notable exception of Onesiphorus). By contrast, Timothy is to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The grace that first brought Timothy to trust in Jesus is also able to make him strong in that trust so that he never joins the deserters! He is not just telling Timothy to ‘man up’, which would be of little help. Rather, he tells him to be inwardly strengthened by the grace that is in Christ. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul had asked the Lord to remove what he referred to as a ‘thorn in the flesh’. The Lord answered with ‘my grace is sufficient’. God’s grace is sufficient for you today – not only so that you’ll survive whatever challenges you are facing, but so that you will be strong!
Paul wants to extend his point about guarding the gospel (see 1 Tim 1:13-14), to ensure it remained true and unchanged. Paul himself had received the gospel from Christ (read Galatians 1:12). Then, he proclaimed the gospel, and many had witnessed it and heard it – including Timothy. Now, he is to entrust or commit that gospel to others who will also be qualified to teach others. The word translated ‘entrust’ is the same word used by Jesus on the cross when he cried out ‘into your hands I commit my spirit’. Just as the Son knew his life was safe when entrusted to his Father, Timothy was to put the gospel into safe hands. Two essential qualifications were to mark those Timothy entrusted with the gospel – they must be ‘reliable’ or faithful and they must be able to teach.
There must be faithful people in every age who can take hold of the gospel entrusted to them and entrust it to others who will entrust it to others! If you think about this – that is exactly why are you reading this today!! How did the gospel get from a prison in Rome to you reading about this? Because faithful people over time have practiced 2 Timothy 2:2. And in this our day – we must continue to do this. We must ensure that the Gospel is continually entrusted to faithful people who will entrust it to others. On the formal level, we must look out for those we can send into ministry. On the informal level, we must raise up faithful leaders of every kind – connect group leaders, churchwardens, members of parish council, preachers, youth and children’s leaders – who will do this great work of both guarding and passing on, the gospel!
DAY 2: Read 2 Timothy 2:3-7
To inspire Timothy for faithfulness in ministry, Paul uses three simple but powerful images – the soldier, the athlete and the farmer.
Paul was familiar with Roman soldiers since he was in prison more than once! Soldiers – especially in war time – live in the knowledge that a sense of single mindedness is needed, along with a certain austerity, self-denial and a healthy disregard for trivial matters. Christians need that same focus in serving Jesus.
Similarly the athlete is focused and committed to the task at hand. Healthy eating plus a disciplined regime of training is required. Christians need that same self-discipline in serving and following Jesus.
And there is no such thing as a lazy farmer – at least, not one who wants to eat. They cannot take any shortcuts. They must toil every day. Their work is endless – they do not clock on and off. Following Jesus, requires the same determination!
How are you going in serving the Lord? We are in the middle of a battle. The description of solder, athlete and farmer, followed another call from Paul to Timothy to join with him in suffering! The message for us is that we cannot follow Jesus half-heartedly! This is not something just for Sundays. It is searching, demanding, exacting. And yet – as for the soldier, athlete and farmer – it is exciting and challenging and thrilling and rewarding and when we give of ourselves to Jesus in this way, we wouldn’t have it any other way!!
DAY 3: Read 2 Timothy 2:8-10
In order to endure to the end, through the good seasons and the difficult seasons, believers must never lose sight of the Lord Jesus. Paul says, “remember Jesus Christ”. We might wonder why Paul says this. Could we possibly forget him? John Stott says, “the human memory is notoriously fickle”. Israel suffered from spiritual memory loss, which led them down a pitiful path of unfaithfulness and idolatry. And today, there are many churches which have forgotten that it is all about Jesus and have made it about themselves and various other 21st century agendas.
Remembering Jesus involves keeping both his person and his work central. Paul says Christ is raised from the dead, descended from David. That is, Jesus is both divine – proved by his resurrection, and fully human – he descended from David. When your tank is empty, remember that the tomb is empty and the throne is occupied. You can endure anything if you have sufficient motivation – hence – v10 I can endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. A lofty vision of the person and work of Christ will keep us in the war, in the game and on the farm!
It is all about Jesus! And because Paul has not made it about anything else, he is in chains like a criminal. Here is the third reminder in this letter so far, that following Jesus will be costly. But although they may have locked up Paul, they could never lock up or contain God’s word! And although they may rid classrooms in state schools of religious education and stop SU chaplains ministering in schools, they cannot actually lock up the gospel in this our day! So don’t lose heart! God and the gospel are more powerful than any human intent or actions! Remember Jesus – raised from the dead! If death and evil could not hold Jesus down then, do you think anything can hold back the news of Jesus today?
DAY 4: Read 2 Timothy 2:11-13
Paul here quotes a popular saying of his time, which reinforces the idea that all believers will endure hardship. This saying may have been a fragment of an early hymn. It consists of two pairs of sayings – the first relating to those who endure faithfully, the second pair describing those who are unfaithful.
If we die with him, that is; by denying ourselves then we will live with him. Similarly, if we endure, we will reign with him. But if we deny Jesus, there are sad and humbling consequences. (See Jesus’ own words in Matthew 10:33). In the final phrase if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself, it means that God will remain true to his word that he will deny us. God is faithful not just to extend blessing to those with genuine faith but also faithful to his warnings. God cannot act contrary to his nature or his declarations. He is consistent. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Remember Jesus Christ! Remember the one who conquered our enemies is seated at the Father’s right hand and gives sufficient grace that we may endure hardship. If we endure with him, we will reign with him. And when you hear the Saviour say, “well done”, then you will not regret having followed Jesus, having passed on the gospel and having suffered for the gospel as a good soldier, a disciplined athlete and a hardworking farmer!
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