by Sam E. Stone
This month’s lessons are taken from various New Testament books and point out both why we worship and whom we worship. Today’s title comes directly from the text (v. 8), as Paul continues to remind Timothy of the essentials (2 Timothy 3:14, 15). Now, late in his life, the apostle continues his role as Timothy’s spiritual father. Many churches speak of their young men who have gone into specialized Christian service as their “Timothys.”
Your Message/2 Timothy 2:8-13
Whatever happens in life, remember Jesus. When you face difficulties, think of him. Your attitude should be like his (Philippians 2:5). Raised from the dead, descended from David. Christ was both God and man. A descendant of David in the flesh, he always was and always will be the Son of God. For this reason God accepted his death as payment for our sin and raised him from the dead. This is my gospel. The death, burial, and resurrection were at the center of the apostolic message (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Although Paul was innocent of any wrongdoing, he had been imprisoned by the Roman authorities. They treated him like a common criminal. But God’s Word is not chained. This triumphant cry says it all. Wicked men cannot stop the march of truth. God’s Word will judge everyone. The message lives on, even if the messenger is jailed or put to death. As the old song says, “His truth is marching on!”
Here is a trustworthy saying. This expression occurs five times in the Pastoral Epistles. Here it introduces words that may have been part of an early Christian hymn. If we died with him, we will also live with him. Christ died for us on the cross. Our death to sin is pictured as we are baptized into his death (Romans 6:1-7). Lowered into a grave of water, we are then raised. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, our bodies will one day be resurrected to live with him eternally. If we endure, we will also reign with him. This is our challenge (Revelation 2:10). If we disown him, however, we have no such hope (see Matthew 10:33). God can be trusted. People change, but not God.
Your Ministry/2 Timothy 2:14-19
Because of this, Timothy’s job description is unchanged. Keep reminding them of these things. The apostolic message bears repeating. He is to “entrust (it) to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). Timothy was to avoid quarreling about words, but concentrate on teaching correct doctrine. It is one thing to defend the faith; it is another to be a nitpicker about unimportant opinions or inconsequential details. Don’t waste time on trivialities. Anything that diverts our attention from the basics of Christian faith has no value.
Do your best to present yourself before God as one approved. Diligence is essential. On the day of judgment God will evaluate our work. Judgment will either bring commendation or condemnation (see Matthew 25:14-30). Timothy is to be one who correctly handles the word of truth, the gospel message. When we stand before God, we don’t want to have to confess that we failed.
In contrast to the false teachers, Timothy was to be straightforward in dealing with God’s truth. Just as the farmer plows a straight furrow across the field, so the believer is to divide the truth of Scripture rightly. Empty and useless disputes about myths and minutia are out of place (1 Timothy 1:4; 4:7; 6:4, 20). That is only godless chatter. Ungodly teaching can spread like gangrene. False teaching spreads its evil influence among people as easily as gangrene spreads in the human body. Paul then names two such teachers—Hymenaeus and Philetus. Hymenaeus had been mentioned earlier (1 Timothy 1:20). These teachers denied the bodily resurrection, perhaps in an early form of Gnosticism. The resurrection is to be taken literally, not allegorically (see John 5:28, 29).
God’s solid foundation stands secure despite the attacks of false teachers. “The Lord knows those who are his.” Today, even as in the time of Korah (Numbers 16:5), God can distinguish between the true believer and the false (John 10:27). We are not the judge; God is (Matthew 7:1). “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” Christians are responsible to repent of sin and return to the Lord (Isaiah 52:11).
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.