SUFFERING FOR THE GOSPEL2 Timothy 1:1-1:18
Key Verse: 1:8
From the last lesson through 2 Peter 3, we learned what kind of people we ought to be in the last days. We ought to live holy and godly lives as we look forward to the day of God. Through 2 Timothy we can learn about then how we should live in the last days.
2 Timothy is known as Apostle Paulâ€™s last epistle.It is to Timothy, his spiritual son, and written in his second imprisonment before his martyrdom in Rome. Through his testimonial letter, we can learn more clearly about Paulâ€™s faith and the core of his life of faith, and we can also learn what is most precious and how to keep and guard what is important. In chapter 1, we will learn about Paulâ€™s three directions: First, to fan into flame the gift of God. Second, to join in suffering for the gospel. Third, to keep and guard the gospel.
I. Fan into flame the gift of God (1-7)
Letâ€™s read verse 1. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus. Paul introduces himself as an apostle of Christ Jesus. His apostleship was given by the will of God. He is sure that he is an apostle of Christ by the will of God, and that his whole life and even his near death are all in Godâ€™s good hands. He also believed in the promise of life in Christ Jesus. This promise of eternal life enabled him to endure present suffering even to the point of death.
Letâ€™s read verse 2. To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. As we know, Paul had no his own family because he had poured himself out for the Lord and for the gospel. God gave him Timothy as a spiritual son during his 1st mission trip. Paul as a servant of the Lord and spiritual father not only taught Timothy the gospel, but showed himself as a good example of gospel-centered life(3:10). And now even in dungeon he prays that Godâ€™s grace, mercy, and peace may fill him.
Look at verse 3a. I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience. He begins with gratitude. He served God as his forefathers did with a clear conscience. Here clear conscience is translated â€˜pure conscienceâ€™ in KJV. The word conscience appears five times in 1&2 Timothy. For him, pure and clear conscience seems to be very important. As many believers at the time were, it was easy to abandon the gospel to avoid suffering. Many have forsaken their conscience before God. However, Paul has served God according to his pure conscience even to the point of being chained as a criminal. He also wanted Timothy to hold onto his good conscience. (1Tim1:18)
Letâ€™s read 3b-4. As night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. Paul remembers Timothy while praying night and day, and recalls his tears. So Paul longs to see him and wants him to visit him, which could be the last chance. And he prays that through spiritual fellowship, he may be filled with joy.
Letâ€™s read verse 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.
Paul reminded Timothyâ€™s sincere faith. This faith first lived in his grandmother Lois and in his mother Eunice, and now lives in Timothy. Here â€˜sincere faithâ€™ is the faith without hypocrisy, and in other translation says genuine faith. From the passage, we learn how important parentsâ€™ sincere faith is especially in forming childrenâ€™s faith. Our genuine faith has a living influence on the formation of our childrenâ€™s faith. After all, whether our faith or childrenâ€™s faith, faith is Godâ€™s gift. Faith is invisible, but powerful in oneâ€™s life. (Heb11) Through hardship it becomes more solid and purer. And through the tests, the sincerity of faith is revealed.
Letâ€™s read verse 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. What is Godâ€™s gift to Timothy? 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11 and Romans 12:6-8 listed many examples of Godâ€™s gifts; the message of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues, serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing, leadership, showing mercy and more. These gifts are given to a person to serve the work of the gospel and to build up the body of Christ which is his Church. Based on the passage, Godâ€™s gift to Timothy is sincere faith and preaching and teaching. (1 Tim 4: 13-14) Paul encourages Timothy not to neglect the gift of God, but to fan it into flame. In other words, to rekindle Godâ€™s gift into flame and to use and develop the gift of God positively so that it burns more and more. Timothy was serving Ephesiansâ€™ Church, the most influential church in Asia at that time. It also became the target of false teachersâ€™ attack. Internally, there were quarrels and conflicts. From the outside, Neroâ€™s persecution were reaching its peak. Furthermore, Apostle Paul was imprisoned ahead of his martyrdom. As young Timothy with these heavy tasks to guard and serve Godâ€™s church as well as his own faith, it seemed impossible for him to carry out. However, Paul continued to remind that Timothy had the gift of God and he believed that even if Timothy is weak, if he fan into flame the gift of God, he will be able to fulfill Godâ€™s given mission powerfully as a gospel defender and gospel preacher even in terrible times in the last days.
Here let us think about what to fan into flame. Some young people are excited to burn Friday nights with parties, games, sports or alcohol. Other people eagerly fan into flame their sinful desires and the lust of the flesh. But as a result, the flame ruins their bodies and souls. Eventually it left nothing but ashes of sins and eternal destruction. I pray that we may be able to flee the evil desires of youth, rather fan into flame Godâ€™s gift in us.
God, who gave his gift to Timothy at that time, also gives his gifts to each of us for the gospel work. Anyone in Christ Jesus receives his gift because the source of these gifts is the Holy Spirit which is given through Jesus Christ. So there is no one without God-given gifts. These gifts may be sincere faith, or a gift of teaching, of wisdom and knowledge, or a gift of serving or encouraging, etc. The more we use Godâ€™s gift, the stronger it becomes and the more useful it becomes, just like athletes are intensifying their talents in the course of their training.
Among us are many examples. I did not know Godâ€™s gift of praise given to M. James and M. Peter. When they have fanned into flame the gift of praise with their musical instruments: oboe and saxophone, God uses the gifts to enrich our worship with praises. I thank God for his gifts given to Estefania in reciting Bible passages. I am grateful not only because of her graceful recitation but also because I see the word of God coming out of her heart. Itâ€™s true that the more we meditates on Godâ€™s words, the clearer and deeper we understand his words. May God help each of us not to neglect Godâ€™s gift, but to fan it into flame for his nameâ€™s sake.
But there is something that disturbs Timothy. It is a spirit of timidity. Letâ€™s read verse 7. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. What God has given us is not a spirit of timidity. The spirit of fear is what Satan plants to make people his own slaves. Rather, God has given us a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. Paul asks Timothy to hold on to what God has given.
In this letter there are many instructions to Timothy. You then, my son, be strong â€¦(2:1) / Endure hardship â€¦(2:3,4:5) / Keep reminding themâ€¦. Warn them â€¦against quarrelingâ€¦(2:14) / Do your best to present yourself to Godâ€¦(2:15) / Avoid godless chatter..(2:16) / Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousnessâ€¦(2:22) / Preach the Word; â€¦ correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.(4:2)â€¦etc.
To Timothy as a spiritual leader, power, love, and self-discipline are essential to fulfill all these instructions. And the three must be together. With the spirit of power, he can endure hardship and can preach the Word; with the spirit of love, he can warn, correct, and rebuke Godâ€™s flock of sheep with great patience; with the spirit of self-discipline, he can set himself as a good example for the believers in every way. He needs to depend on the spirit of power, love, and self-discipline as a spiritual leader.
II. Join in suffering for the gospel (8-12).
Letâ€™s read verse 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. In 2 Timothy, the word â€˜ashamedâ€™ is repeated several times. In chapter 2 and 4 is described that some people turned away from the gospel, and others deserted Paul to avoid suffering (1:15, 4:16). We can see that how easy it was for believers to be ashamed of the gospel and of Paul. But Paul commanded Timothy saying, Do not to be ashamed to testify about our Lord and of me his prisoner. This is exactly what Jesus had taught about, in Luke 9:26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I pray that we may not be ashamed to testify to the Lord. Rather, we may draw near to the Word at any time and we may pray at any place without any hesitation, and we may boldly preach the gospel without feeling ashamed. And we may not also be ashamed of those who do these things.
Letâ€™s read the verse 8 again. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God Paul not only asks Timothy not to be ashamed, but challenges him to join with him in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. What do we suffer for? Paul says that we suffer for the gospel. Thinking of Paulâ€™s life, he was rejected by his own people and persecuted by unbelievers because he preached the gospel. He was put in prison several times for the gospel. He was naked, hungry, and unable to sleep many nights. Why? He endured all sufferings for the gospel. And now, because of this gospel, he was suffering in prison. Now he is willing to suffer for the gospel, and urges his beloved son Timothy to join with him in suffering for the gospel. Paul knew very well that it is not easy at all. How then can we join in suffering for the gospel? It is possible only by the power of God. When we depend on the power of God, God enables us to do so.
Letâ€™s read verses 9 and 10. who has saved us and called us to a holy life â€“ 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, 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. Here Paul explains why the gospel is worth enough to suffer for. First, it is through the gospel that we were saved and called by God to a holy life. Godâ€™s salvation and holy calling were given not by our work, but by his own purpose and grace. The gospel only has power to save people from sin and death and from eternal punishment. The gospel has power to sanctify them to a holy life. Second, it is through the gospel that we have inherited eternal life and the kingdom of God which is immortal. Jesus destroyed death and gave us eternal life and immortality through his death and resurrection. This gospel is worth more than we suffer for it.
Letâ€™s look at verses 11 and 12. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 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. Paul explains why he is suffering, yet not ashamed of the gospel. It is all because of Jesus whom he has believed. Jesus was not be ashamed of the cross that he received for Paul himself, but persevered it. He endured even death and rose from the dead. The risen Christ called Paul an undeserved sinner as the apostle for the Gentile. Because he knew Jesus, he could not be ashamed of Jesus his Savior. Paul was also able to endure the momentary suffering because he was convinced that Jesus would give him the eternal life and the crown of righteousness for that day when he finished his race of faith.
III. Keep and guard the gospel (13-18)
Paulâ€™s third direction for Timothy is to keep and guard the gospel. Letâ€™s read verses 13 and 14. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you â€“ guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Here Paul refers the gospel as the sound teaching and as the good deposit. The gospel gives right answers and leads people into right way. The gospel is also the core of our thoughts and lives from which everything can grow and prosper. Paul has kept and guarded the gospel and also entrusted this precious gospel to Timothy. This is not only for Timothy, but also for us to keep and guard this gospel so that it may continue to be inherited for the next generation to come.
In Conclusion, Paul encouraged Timothy not to be afraid, but to fan into flame the gift of God, and to join in suffering for the gospel based on the grace of God, and to guard this gospel. We thank God that this gospel has been passed down to us. And I pray that God may help each of us not to be ashamed of this gospel, but to be able to join in suffering and to preach the gospel boldly this year.
By Moses Jung