Apostle Paul: Passionate Discipleship
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Sermon on the Mount
7. Be Neither Intimidated nor Ashamed (2 Timothy 1:1-17)by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Edward Burne-Jones, "St. Timothy and His Grandmother Lois" (c. 1872), Vyner Memorial Window in Oxford Cathedral. Larger image.
2 To Timothy, my dear son:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life -- not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you -- guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. 18 May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus. (2 Timothy 1:1-18)
Paul is lonely and in prison again (1:8, 16), no doubt in Rome. He is nearly alone, with little to do but to write, pray, and prepare for his final defense. This last letter we have from Paul's pen is full of both human emotion and godly faith. Some of his closest associates have, out of shame for his imprisonment and probable execution, deserted him, and he is struggling.
Paul's second letter to Timothy begins with the same three parts of the salutation: sender, addressee, and greeting, but there are a few differences:
|Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope....||Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus....|
|To Timothy my true son in the faith:||To Timothy, my dear son:|
|Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.||Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.|
The differences are minor, but I detect a kind of softening of tone. While 1 Timothy was clearly intended to be read by both Timothy and the house-churches of Ephesus, 2 Timothy is a personal epistle to Timothy himself, with some private exhortation, as well as many personal references at the end, which are nearly absent in 1 Timothy.
In 2 Timothy, Paul, who is facing death soon, looks forward to "the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus" (1:1). While it was necessary to accredit Timothy with apostolic authority in the first letter as his "true son in the faith" -- that is, one who teaches accurately the apostolic doctrine and faith -- in 2 Timothy, Paul addresses him with affection as "my dear son."
Prayer and Longing for Timothy (1:3-4)
Timothy's courage and zeal have been flagging in this ongoing battle with the false teachers, so Paul writes to encourage him:
"I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience,313 as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers." (1:3)
Observe Paul's pattern of prayer for Timothy: "night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers" (1:3b). "Constantly" (NIV, NRSV), "without ceasing" (KJV) is adialeiptos, "unceasing, constant,"314 literally "without intermission."315 Paul utters prayers during the day as well as during the dark hours of night, and Timothy's name is always on his lips before God.
Now his mind goes back to their last tearful parting, knowing that they may never see each other again.
"Recalling your tears, I long316 to see you, so that I may be filled with joy." (1:4)
Over the last few months Paul has seen the exodus of most of his trusted workers and compatriots. Some have left for ministry elsewhere, others have deserted Paul in his hour of need (1:15; 4:10-12, 20-21a), though a few remain (4:21b). So as he writes this final letter we possess from Paul's pen, he feels the aching in his heart resurface as he longs to see his trusted friend once again -- Timothy who loves him. He anticipates being "filled with joy" upon seeing Timothy again. Yes, God is the ultimate source of our joy, but his love is often experienced through the love of his children for one another. We need each other and are God's gift to one another.
Encouragement of Timothy's Background (1:5)
Paul's mind goes back to his first contact with Timothy in Lystra (Acts 16:1). His father had been Greek, an unbeliever. But his mother Eunice, a Jewish Christian, had raised him in the faith:
"I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also." (1:5)
"Sincere" (NIV, NRSV), "unfeigned" (KJV) is anypokritos, "pertaining to being without pretense, genuine, sincere," literally "without play-acting, unhypocritical."317 Paul had met Christians who talked the Christian jargon all too well, but inside were hollow somehow. Timothy was different. What you saw was what you got and it was so refreshing to Paul.
Reignite Your Spiritual Gift (1:6)
Paul has begun with tender longing, then a word of encouragement. Now he turns to a series of exhortations:
"6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands." (1:6)
"Fan into flame" (NIV), "rekindle" (NRSV), "stir up" (KJV) is anazōpyreō, "to cause to begin again, rekindle," literally "cause to blaze again," from ana-, "again" + zōpyreō, "kindle into flame." He has referred to this gift (charisma) in a previous letter:
"Do not neglect320 your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you." (1 Timothy 4:14)
Paul refers to an occasion when the presbytery along with Paul had laid hands on Timothy, with a prophetic utterance, and impartation of a spiritual gift. Exactly what was that gift? We don't know for sure, but it might well be the gift of teaching, since that was the burden of Timothy's charge in the first letter. Another candidate might be "evangelist" (4:5).
If you've ever operated in a spiritual gift, and but allowed your practice of it to become cold and disused, then you know what Paul is talking about. Paul uses the image of a fire that has been left to die down, perhaps overnight. In the morning, you stir up the fire to try to get it started again from some embers that remain -- feed it newspaper or kindling to get it blazing again.
|Q1. (2 Timothy 1:6) What advice would you give to a
person who has let use of a spiritual gift or ministry lapse? How can a
gift or ministry be rekindled? What might be involved in reclaiming use
of such a gift?
Paul recognizes that Timothy hasn't been using his spiritual gift, at least not to its potential. He doesn't question whether Timothy has "lost" the gift,321 but is calling upon him to start exercising that gift once again. Like playing an instrument that you once excelled at, you may be rusty, but you can regain, with determined practice, much of the facility and self-confidence that you once possessed.
Timidity vs. Power, Love, and Self-Discipline (1:7)
The reasons for Timothy backing off on his gift seem to be timidity and shame:
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord...." (1:7-8a)
Paul is confronting Timothy's tendency toward cowardice in the face of persecution and hardship. "Timidity" (NIV), "cowardice" (NRSV), "fear" (KJV) is deilia, "lack of mental or moral strength, cowardice."322 The adjective in classical Greek means "cowardly," hence, "vile, worthless."323 It is a strong word that must have shocked Timothy. But Paul quickly moves to qualities of the Holy Spirit which God has given us to counteract fear: "power, love, self-discipline." In the flesh, we may be fearful, but in the Spirit we can operate in God's power. The word "self-discipline" (NIV), "sound mind" (KJV) is sōphronismos, "exercise of prudence, moderation, self-discipline."324
Shame, the Demotivator (1:8)
Paul's imprisonment and probable sentence of death have caused fear in his associates -- fear of being contaminated in the eyes of the authorities. Some of his onetime friends have already deserted him, in particular Demas (4:10), and he is still feeling that pain. So he deals head-on with the subject in this letter to Timothy:
"8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life -- not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." (1:8-12)
Timothy was certainly struggling with shame or else Paul wouldn't have brought it up. "Ashamed" in verses 8 and 12 is epaischynomai, "to experience a painful feeling or sense of loss of status because of some particular event or activity, be ashamed."325
Shame can demotivate us from full, faithful service. Jesus instructed his disciples never to be ashamed of him or his words (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26), yet when Jesus was arrested, his disciples fled (Matthew 26:56). Peter's shame resulted in flat-out denial.
Because the Gospel isn't "politically correct" in many circles, we are tempted to downplay or be silent about our faith in the Bible and in Jesus. We, like Timothy, can be "ashamed to testify about our Lord" (1:8), because it may result in us losing status in the eyes of others. Shame on us!
|Q2. (2 Timothy 1:7-8, 12) Can you give examples of how
cowardice and shame may have kept you from identifying yourself as a
Christian on occasion? From testifying clearly about your faith?
According to verse 12, what is the antidote for cowardice and shame? How
then do we combat the cowardice and shame we might recognize in
Suffering for the Gospel (1:8, 11-12)
Now Paul picks up another theme that carries through this letter: suffering.
"8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering326 for the gospel, by the power of God.... 11 Of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering327 as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." (1:8-12)
We naturally shy away from anything that involves suffering and hardship. When our children try to get out of chores and arduous work, we scold them, trying to build fortitude and self-disciple within them.
Paul senses that Timothy is shying away from suffering. Notice the cause of the suffering:
"For the gospel" (1:8)
"Of this gospel I was appointed a herald328 and an apostle and a teacher" (1:11)
Paul is not just a Christian. He has been called to be a proclaimer or herald of the Gospel. Timothy, too, is to "do the work of an evangelist" (4:5), since he, too, has been called to be a proclaimer.
The Worthiness and Glory of the Gospel (1:8-10)
Timothy's cowardice and shame come from focusing on himself and the consequences to him. To motivate him, Paul displays the Gospel in all its power and glory. Properly understood, the cause of the Gospel inspires us to great endurance:
"8 But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life -- not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (1:8-10)
At the very core of the gospel is "grace" (charis), the favor of God that is shown to us, not because we in some way deserve it (1:9; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5), but because he decided in his own purposes to love us and bless us.
Children have no hesitation about receiving a gift. But adults become cynical when a free gift is offered. What's the catch? we ask. What strings are attached? But God's grace comes freely, graciously in response to faith, "not because of anything we have done" (1:9).
Now an interesting statement:
"This grace was given329 us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus...." (1:9b-10a)
Is Paul implying that predestination is at work here? Most certainly. Jesus' death for our sins was not some kind of "oh-my-gosh" afterthought of God's, but his plan from "before the beginning of time" (John 17:24; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:4; 3:11; Titus 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20; and perhaps Revelation 13:8). God's plan to show grace through Jesus Christ was put in place far before Adam and Eve were created. But only now has this part of God's mystery been revealed.
"... It has now been revealed330 through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus...." (1:10a)
Usually this word "appearing" (epiphaneia) indicates Christ's Second Coming, but here it refers to his First Coming, his incarnation as a man.
Now observe how Paul describes Christ's titles and accomplishments:
"... Our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (1:10b)
Christ Pantocrator, Lord of All, is a characteristic icon of cathedrals. Christ wears a three-rayed halo, gives the sign of blessing with his right hand, and in his left hand holds the Bible. This beautiful mosaic (1148 AD) is from the dome of the Cathedral of Cefalù, Palermo, Italy. Larger image.
Let's look at the words:
"Savior" (sōtēr) is "one who rescues, savior, deliverer, preserver."331 Jesus the Savior rescues people who cannot rescue themselves from the grip and penalty of sin.
"Christ," of course, is his title "anointed one," the Greek translation (Christos) of the Hebrew word māshîaḥ, "anointed one, Messiah."
The name "Jesus," as you know, was given by the Angel Gabriel at God's direction (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31; 2:21). It is a later form of the name "Joshua," which means, "Yah(weh) saves or helps."
"Destroyed death" (NIV) or "abolished death" (NRSV, KJV) uses the verb katargeō, "to cause something to come to an end or to be no longer in existence, abolish, wipe out, set aside something."332 Death was the penalty for Adam's and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden, but Christ -- through his death and resurrection -- has paved the way for Eternal Life for all who follow him.
"Brought to light" is phōtizō, "shine," here, "bring to light, reveal something."333 As Paul writes to the Corinthians, the judgment at Jesus' coming "will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness" (1 Corinthians 4:5).
Two elements have been revealed through the Gospel:
- with a capital "L", that is, eternal life.
- (aphtharsia), "the state of not being subject to decay/dissolution/interruption, incorruptibility, immortality."334 This was revealed through Christ's resurrection from the dead and is promised to us at his Second Coming.
This is the "gospel" (euangelion), "good news."335 Because of how the secular world has caricatured the Christian gospel in terms of "You're going to hell," we've sometimes avoided the word. But our message is not bad news; it is exceedingly good news, of which we should never be ashamed! As Paul said to the Roman church:
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)
|Q3. (2 Timothy 1:8-10) Paul is writing to encourage
timid Timothy. How is Paul's focus on Christ and the gospel designed to
encourage Timothy? How is this an antidote for shame?
I Know Whom I Have Believed (1:12)
Paul says to Timothy, I am suffering because I have been appointed -- as have you -- to be a preacher and teacher of the gospel:
"Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." (1:12)
At the beginning of the letter Paul had praised Timothy's "sincere faith," a legacy from his mother and grandmother. Now Paul points to his own strong faith as the reason for his unashamed preaching.
There's a stirring hymn by Daniel W. Whittle based on the King James translation of this verse: "I Know Whom I Have Believed,"336 but the chorus is hard to decrypt into modern English:
"But 'I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.'"
The NIV is little better. But the NRSV puts it in a more understandable sentence:
"I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him." (1:12, NRSV)
Let's look at the key words in this sentence:
"Ashamed" we examined in verse 8 above.
"Know" is oida, "know," is used here in the sense of knowing a person, "be intimately acquainted with or stand in a close relation to, know."337
"Believed" (NIV, KJV), "put my trust" (NRSV) is pisteuō, "believe," here, "to entrust oneself to an entity in complete confidence, believe (in), trust," with implication of total commitment to the one who is trusted.338
"Convinced" (NIV), "sure" (NRSV), "persuaded" (KJV) is peithō, "convince, persuade," here in the perfect passive voice, "to attain certainty in reference to something, be convinced, certain."339
"Able" is dynatos, "pertaining to being capable or competent."340
"Guard" (NIV, NRSV), "keep" (KJV) is phylassō, which we've already seen in a similar sense in 1 Timothy 6:20, and also occurs in verse 14 below: "to protect by taking careful measures, guard, act."341
"Entrusted" (NIV, NRSV), "committed" (KJV) is parathēkē, "property entrusted to another, deposit,"342 also found in 1 Timothy 6:20 and in verse 14 below.
"Until that day" (NRSV), "for that day" (NIV), "against that day" (KJV) is a simple phrase with the preposition eis, with the meaning here "until,"343 referring of course to the Day of the Lord or the Second Coming of Christ (mentioned again in verse 18).
Who does Paul know intimately? Jesus Christ! That is why he can have such bold confidence. Christ has appeared to him, and he has spent many hours in prayer and ministry speaking to and listening to the Lord Jesus. He has had a passion in his soul to know Christ fully:
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death...." (Philippians 3:10)
What has he entrusted to Christ? Is it the "gospel," the "pattern of sound teaching" (1:13) that has been entrusted (parathēkē) to Timothy (1:13), and which Timothy, in turn, is to "entrust (paratithēmi) to reliable men" (2:2)? As neat as that might seem, verse 12 rather clearly indicates that this is something Paul is trusting into Christ's care, not into Timothy's.
Paul's life is in its twilight stage. The famous apostle is in prison and will soon stand trial for the last time and be executed by sword. Then he will be dead like any other human being. Churches that he has founded are struggling with false doctrine and other problems. Life seems bleak. But in this verse Paul is saying that he is trusting into Christ's care his life and the fruit of his ministry, to be revealed on the Last Day.
|Q4. (2 Timothy 1:12) According to verse 12, what is the
source of Paul's fearlessness? What does he trust God to guard for him?
Guard the Gospel Entrusted to You (1:13-14)
Now he returns to exhort Timothy:
"13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you -- guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (1:13-14)
He says: Timothy, if you want to know what sound teaching looks and sounds like, then follow the pattern or standard344 that I displayed before you -- sound doctrine coupled with genuine faith and heartfelt love for those I taught.
This sound teaching, this authentic Gospel is given to Timothy as a sacred trust. It is "property entrusted to another, a deposit."345 We are not free to change, select, or add to the message. We, too, are given the Gospel as a trust to us. And we, like Timothy, are charged to pass it on to faithful men and women who will, in turn, transmit it faithfully to the next generation after them.
Personal Comments (1:15-17)
Before going on, Paul shares some personal words with Timothy. People who are unduly concerned about what other people think of them share only the positive things in their lives. But here Paul shares both the positive and the negative with his dear colleague.
Two co-workers who have been with Paul in Rome, both from the area around Ephesus, have left, probably because of the continual shame they felt at his imprisonment and likely execution. The verb is apostrephō, "turn from," here, "turn away from by rejecting, reject, repudiate."348 I know from personal experience how hard it is for a pastor when faithful workers leave your church for another. You try not to take it personally, but you always do. Paul is feeling that pain.
Now he turns to a particularly encouraging visit from someone who wasn't turned off by his imprisonment -- Onesiphorus (oh-nay-SIF-or-os), whose name means, "profit-bringer."349
"16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. 18 May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus." (1:16-17)
Consider his character:
- Onesiphorus "refreshed" Paul, not just once, but often. The verb is anapsychō, "to provide relief from obligation or trouble, give someone a breathing space, revive, refresh."350 This probably included bringing food and perhaps fresh clothing to Paul, helping in practical ways.
- Onesiphorus was not ashamed of associating with a prisoner. For this he could be regarded by the authorities and others as perhaps a sympathizer or an accomplice, deserving of punishment himself. Paul, we know, viewed his chains as a badge of honor (Acts 28:20; Ephesians 6:20). Apparently Onesiphorus did also.
- Onesiphorus went out of his way to find Paul in Rome. He searched diligently to find Paul, when finding him was not easy. The adverb is spoudaiōs, "pertaining to being conscientious in discharging a duty or obligation, diligently, earnestly, zealously."351
- Onesiphorus had helped352 him in many ways when Paul had been in Ephesus.
Onesiphorus had a servant's heart. Since Paul prays for mercy for "the house of Onesiphorus" (1:16a), it is possible that the man had since died, though we're not sure. Paul also prays that he might find "mercy from the Lord" on the day of judgment (1:18a).
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In this second letter to Timothy, Paul has greeted his young associate warmly, and then talked frankly about shame, how shame has driven some of his trusted aides to desert him, and at the same time has not deterred Onesiphorus. Paul is concerned that the shame and "offense of the cross" (Galatians 5:11) will deter Timothy -- and us -- from the kind of all out commitment that we must make to the work of Christ and spreading his words.
What place has shame concerning your faith and your allegiance to Christ played in your life? Together we acknowledge and confess the sin of shame and renounce it. Shame will no longer deter us from our loving service to Christ!
Lord, as I consider my own life, I can see times when I have been silenced by shame in the face of the vocal skeptics and critics of the Christian faith. Forgive me. Unbind me that I may fearlessly represent you as a proud ambassador in this earth. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands." (2 Timothy 1:6)
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7)
"God ... has saved us and called us to a holy life -- not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace." (2 Timothy 1:9a)
"This grace ... has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (2 Timothy 1:9b-10)
"Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." (2 Timothy 1:12)
327. "Suffer/suffering" in verse 12 paschō, "suffer, endure, undergo something," originally "to experience something, be treated," but in the New Testament, the word is used almost always in an unfavorable sense (BDAG 785, 3b). See more on this word group in chapter 8.
328. We saw this word used in a similar way in 1 Timothy 2:7. Kēryx, originally referred to "an official entrusted with a proclamation, herald," then "one who makes public declarations, especially of a transcendent nature, herald, proclaimer" (BDAG 543, 2).
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