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After Paul was released from his first imprisonment (cf. Philippians 1:23-Ezekiel :; Philippians 2:19-Jeremiah :; Philemon 1:22), he wrote the first letter to Timothy and the letter to Titus. Paul has written this second letter to his young friend during his second imprisonment. His second imprisonment is much heavier than his first one. He also knows that he will not be released again, but that he will be sentenced and will suffer the martyr’s death.
If you bear this background in mind you will experience the power of the letter while reading. The bold witness and the confidence in God in hard times come from a man who is willing to die for what has been entrusted to him by God. Therefore this letter is a warning and an encouragement for the man of God in the last days.
You may call this letter a farewell message of Paul, like the farewell (or last) words we have from Jacob (Gen 49), from Moses (Deu 33) and from Samuel (1Sam 12). Maybe it is still better to speak of the spiritual testament of the apostle. In a testament a person declares what he wants to be done with his properties after his death. Paul knows that his earthly life will soon end. He leaves a spiritual inheritance behind: the truth that God has committed to his trust. How are the believers supposed to deal with it when he is not there anymore? In this letter he will exhibit it.
Paul has established and built the church of God on earth through the gospel. His work is finished. But as it happened to everything that God has given into the hands of man, it will also happen to the church on earth. Paul foresees the deviation and decline of it. Thereby he sharply takes note of the condition the church will end up to after his death (cf. Acts 20:29). He sees the decline that will increase after his death. The instructions he writes down in this spiritual testament are therefore of great importance for the church through the time from the death of the great apostle.
You encounter much passion and emotion in the letter. Paul was a man of the same nature like us. He looks back at his life work and sees what has become of it. He doesn’t do that like an emotionless analyst who looks at the cold statistics. He again experiences his work and he also has a presentiment of how things will develop. From those feelings he passes on guidelines for a time that all things will deteriorate even more and that the origin of the church will be hardly recognizable.
When you read the letter you hear him sharing the concerns of his heart with a (young) man who is concerned about that, just like him. He does that in a way that makes the letter important for all times. That’s why it is evidently a letter that is inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore it is a part of the Bible. Through this letter the Spirit teaches us about the deviation of the church from its original state.
The letter also informs what the way of security is for those who seek God and desire to live to His honor. That way of security rests on two principles from which everyone in the midst of mixture and confusion can find consolation, like the apostle did. These two principles are:
1. the firm foundation of God and
2. withdrawing from injustice.
What that means will become clear when we discuss chapter 2.
Beside the warning and encouraging character of this letter, it is also pugnacious, for in spite of all decay you should not despair. The greater the decay, the greater the challenge to be a man of God (m/f). A man of God is someone who shows Who God is in an environment that does not consider the rights of God. We do not have the power in ourselves to do that, but in the Spirit of God Who is operative in a man of God, even when Christianity is full of complacency. I hope you want to be a man of God.
The Promise of Life and Blessing
2 Timothy 1:1. Although the tone of the letter is confidential and amicable Paul starts with determining his apostleship and in that way his apostolic authority. He connects his apostleship with some things that are of great importance for the authority with which he writes down the guidelines in this letter for the time of decay. In the first place the Person of “Christ Jesus” arises behind his apostleship. Christ Jesus has sent him and determines the content of his ministry. What Paul is saying is in His Name.
In the second place he has not arrogated this apostleship to himself nor has he received it from men. No, he is an apostle “by the will of God”. The apostleship is a part of the plan of God with his life.
In the third place his apostleship is connected with “the promise of life in Christ Jesus”. That makes the ministry he performs as an apostle inviolable to death. Although Paul has died, his ministry of his apostleship remains through this letter. His apostleship is in fact connected with spiritual, heavenly and eternal things. Those are things that exceed beyond the earth and the decline of the church. Therefore this letter continues to keep its full meaning for the church in each time.
The life that is in Christ Jesus, is from before the ages. The Father has promised in eternity to the Son to give this life (Titus 1:2). To whom? To all who believe in the Son (John 3:36; 1 John 5:11-2 Kings :). Do you believe in the Son? Then this is the anchor that will keep you standing through the storms you read about in this letter and that are threatening your life of faith.
2 Timothy 1:2. Therefore it is very wonderful and encouraging that Paul shows you first what remains unchangeably and eternally true for each child of God personally. Only then he speaks about the decay of the church. That must have cheered Timothy up. And Paul says more to cheer him up with. He calls him “my beloved son” to make him feel the warmth of the heart of a father towards his son.
In his first letter he calls Timothy ‘a true son’. But now the spiritual climate is getting colder it is more necessary to emphasize the warm love to one another. Just in a time where many people resist or turn their back on you, the expressions of love are the best basis to encourage another person for doing a service. Not only in Timothy’s direction is this expression of love important. You also notice in this expression that Paul in his nearing end even more realizes how precious Timothy is to him.
For the exertion of the tasks of Timothy there is no better wish to be thought of than what Paul speaks of here. Also in his first letter to him Paul wishes him these things. That shows that for your personal life you always need the “grace, mercy [and] peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord”. It also proves that that is sufficient for all imaginable circumstances where you may find yourself in.
Just ponder on the rich content of the separate words ‘grace’, ‘mercy’ and ‘peace’ for a moment. ‘Grace’ is God’s love for men who are not worthy of it because they are evil. ‘Mercy’ is God’s love for men who are weak and incapable, who have no capability to do something good. With grace and mercy God has fulfilled in love what you as a weak and sinful man needed. Then you realized that He also granted you His ‘peace’. Now you are a child of God you need that same grace and mercy to live as a child of God. When you realize that, you will experience the peace of God in your heart.
Just also ponder on the origin of it, the Persons from Whom they come: ‘God the Father’ and ‘Christ Jesus, our Lord’. I assume that you have learnt to know the Father and the Lord Jesus better since your conversion. You surely have found more and more reasons to thank the Father and the Lord Jesus for these rich gifts of grace, mercy and peace. It is also the first thing that Paul does here.
Now read 2 Timothy 1:1-2 again.
Reflection: Which encouragements have you found in these verses? Thank the Lord for that.
Thanks, Power, Love and Discipline
2 Timothy 1:3. Paul doesn’t give thanks to God because of the special ministry he was given and which he had now almost accomplished. No, he gives thanks to God because of Whom God is. Could the reason be that he had experienced much of the grace and mercy of God and that with the peace of God in his heart he was able to go through all hardships?
Of course he has known God for a long time now. Ever since the time of his forefathers he has been serving God. They enabled him to serve God. He doesn’t make any judgment about their inward condition, he only writes down what characterized them. He acknowledges what was in them for God. With gratefulness he looks back at his relationship with his parents and forefathers at the end of his life. Those relationships are not shut off when we come to conversion. Also now it is of great importance that the Lord is being served in the families and generations.
Paul already knew and served God before he converted. He did that to the best of his knowledge and with a pure conscience. That doesn’t mean that his service carried the consent or blessing of God. It only means that what he did, he did in ignorance (1 Timothy 1:12-2 Chronicles :). He was sincerely convinced that with everything he was doing he was serving God (cf. John 16:2-Leviticus :). That’s why his conscience did not accuse him for anything he did. His conscience remained pure; he never fought against his conscience. Herein also lies an exhortation for Timothy to keep a pure conscience.
He always remembers Timothy in his prayers. Timothy may know that and that must have encouraged him. How nice it is when others tell you that they pray for you. It is also nice when you can tell others that you pray for them. Through prayer the remembrance you have of others for whom you pray, remains vivid. In that way you still feel the connection between you and them. Because of that you are not standing alone.
2 Timothy 1:4. That doesn’t mean they don’t need to see one another. Paul has a strong desire to see Timothy. He needs company, especially that of Timothy (cf. 2 Timothy 4:9). He certainly has the company of the Lord (2 Timothy 4:17), but that doesn’t mean that he despises the relationships given by God. On the contrary, he, the great apostle, needs them. He is being encouraged by them (Acts 28:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:17; 1 Thessalonians 3:10). It is not a proof of a spiritual mind when believers experience their faith individually. That’s not the intention of the Lord.
The tears of Timothy have moved the apostle. They are tears of sadness that he saw when Timothy said goodbye to him, his older friend. The tears are the proof of true friendship. That is precisely what makes it so precious for Paul when Timothy would come to him. The joy that it would give him will be a full joy, probably again with tears, but then of joy. The tears of Timothy remain, as it were, still fresh in his memory. He always remembers that.
2 Timothy 1:5. And there is something else that Paul calls to remembrance and that is the genuine faith of his young friend. The word ‘genuine’ or ‘unfeigned’ comes from the Greek word ‘hypocrite’. A Greek actor was called ‘hypocritis’. An actor always plays the role of another person. He is not himself, but he pretends to be somebody else (cf. 2 Samuel 14:2). Timothy certainly doesn’t pretend, he is not characterized by counterfeit, but he is real. That’s also the reason why Paul wants to see him. You also love to be accompanied by sincere believers, by people who really live with the Lord, don’t you?
The faith dwells in him, it has its home there. Faith is not a side matter to him, something for special occasions. Besides, he has had good examples of faith. Paul reminds him of his grandmother and mother. This is an example of the working grace of God in the generations. There are many changes, the apostasy is continuing, but there are also things that remain. There are always people who have a sincere faith in Him.
Paul doesn’t remind him of heroes of faith from a far past, of long-ago-days but of very close examples, his mother and grandmother. That should mean to you: Look around and you will surely find examples in your neighborhood in whom the faith dwells. The touch stone is the faithfulness and obedience to God’s Word.
2 Timothy 1:6. If a sincere faith dwells in you, then there is a reason to remind you that you have received a “gift of God” and which you therefore ought to use. Things may probably be quite difficult in the church, but that should be a challenge to your faith. Timothy has to be reminded of it. That may be the case with you. We all tend to avoid difficulties, don’t we?
Paul gives Timothy an extra stimulus to ‘kindle afresh’ his gift. He reminds him of the way he received the gift. That’s actually because Paul laid his hands on him. In his first letter Paul also encouraged him in his ministry. That encouragement is the reminder that others already had announced that there was a ministry ready for him (1 Timothy 1:18). Afterwards the elders also laid their hands on him (1 Timothy 4:14) and in that way they made themselves one with him in his ministry. When in a weak moment he thinks he just imagines all this, he can recall this again. And now he adds a third remembrance in order to encourage Timothy. Paul personally has granted him that gift. Timothy will undoubtedly remember that event.
2 Timothy 1:7. After all Paul has not acted at his own discretion, but by God’s commission. Each gift comes from God; it is ‘the gift of God’. What is said here to Timothy is therefore an encouragement for you too. Like Timothy you may know what God has given to you.
When you focus on the circumstances you might become afraid. All kinds of arguments may arise in you that can cause you not to use the gift given to you. You could probably think that it all makes no sense after all or you may fear for the adversary that your performance may stir up. This fear is a kind of cowardice, a fear of losing your face or to be ridiculed. Paul points out that this “spirit of fear” is not from God (cf. John 14:27; 1 John 4:18).
What certainly is from God is His Holy Spirit, Who wants to prove Himself in you as a Spirit “of power and love and discipline”. You may know that when God gives a gift He makes sure that for the exercise of it He in the first place gives through His Holy Spirit the necessary power and ability.
In the second place the exercise of a gift also demands self-sacrifice, for the gift is not meant to edify yourself but to serve others. Therefore the Holy Spirit will give you love as the true motive to serve.
Finally, it is also important that in the exercise of your gift you act with discipline or self-control. This happens when your spirit acts in harmony with the Holy Spirit, so that you know that He is guiding you and that you do not act uncontrolled impulsivity (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:32). The Holy Spirit leads you to well-balanced actions and thoughtful words. It doesn’t show a work of the Spirit when a person says: ‘I couldn’t help, it was the Spirit Who urged me to.’
Still some note about the order of these three aspects in which the work of the Holy Spirit is to be recognized. ‘Love’ stands between ‘power’ and ‘discipline’. Love actually stands in the center. It is about love. Love is the oil between power and discipline, through which both aspects ‘run’ well.
You see that also in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Chapter 12 summarizes the gifts and in chapter 14 it is about the exercise of it. The chapter in between, chapter 13, is about love. The gifts of chapter 12 can only be exercised as they are described in chapter 14, if the motive for the exercise is the love that is described in chapter 13.
2 Timothy 1:8. God has given us His Spirit to testify through the Spirit boldly of the Lord Jesus. Like Peter who was first ashamed for his Lord and denied Him (Mark 14:66-Baruch :), but witnessed through the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost with great boldness of his Lord (Acts 2:14; Acts 2:36). The power of the Holy Spirit has been given to us to testify of our Lord and not to perform all kinds of spectacular signs and miracles in order to stir up people’s attention. That is precisely what happens when spectacular things happen and not when somebody speaks out a clear testimony about the Lord Jesus in simplicity.
We all need these words so that we will not be discouraged. Unfortunately it happens often that we as Christians testify in such a way that we should be ashamed of. When believers become lukewarm and worldly minded and when committed witnesses are being silenced, it requires a lot of courage to persevere.
Paul relates himself to the testimony of the Lord Jesus. That is not boasting, but reality. After all, he is imprisoned because of the testimony he gave of his Lord. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t see himself as a prisoner of Nero, but of his Lord. His testimony has caused him tribulation.
Timothy is, as well as you are, called to consciously accept the tribulation that goes together with the gospel and not to avoid it. Preaching the gospel and tribulation go together. But it is the power of God that enables you to go through that tribulation, not as a fate, but as a privilege (Acts 5:41).
Now read 2 Timothy 1:3-8 again.
Reflection: In what way could you stir up your gift?
God’s Own Purpose
2 Timothy 1:9. After the command that Paul gave his young friend Timothy and wherein he also exhorted you, two verses with a great content follow. What is written in these verses is great because its content is totally about what God has done to you in Christ Jesus. It is not about you and your feebleness or failures. Nor is it about the decay that could discourage you that much and neither about the hostility that may frighten you to testify. No, these verses lift you up above all hardships and tell you about the purpose that God already had before the world existed, “from all eternity”. His purpose stands therefore apart from the whole problem of sin and its consequences that exist only after the worlds were created.
In His purpose He also thought of you. He had the purpose to “save” you. And it did not stop with a purpose. He also carried it out. When we plan to do something we often have to admit afterwards that it didn’t stand or that something is still missing. That is impossible with God. He has saved you. This is a deed of God that was achieved perfectly (Ephesians 2:5) and cannot possibly be abolished (John 10:28-Joel :). He has performed that deed by calling you. By saving you God completely redeemed you from all your sins and the power of sin and from the power of the world (Galatians 1:4).
He also has a goal with your life. He has given you a “holy calling”. He has called you to live holy before Him, separated from everything He has saved you from and to be fully consecrated to Him. Indeed a powerful change has happened in both your position and the goal of your life. Regarding your position, you have changed from somebody who was under the wrath of God into someone who is saved. You do not have to fear God’s judgment anymore. Regarding your life goal, you have changed from someone who lived only for himself and whose prospect was to end up in hell into someone who lives before God and who will live forever with Him.
You understand that this happened without any contribution from your side. God also didn’t ask you too actually, for you were absolutely not able to. Your works only asked for judgment on you. No, that great change you owe to God’s “own purpose” alone. And you have received part of it through “the grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus”. Grace reminds you that you couldn’t apply any right from your side on these blessings. It points at God’s sovereign plan. For the execution of His purpose and to make you able to be part of that grace, God has for His great joy a wonderful basis: Christ Jesus. In Him He could also realize His counsel to you.
The reason for each blessing that God gives to whomsoever, is in no way because of who that person is, but because of Who Christ Jesus is. In His purpose He was led by Whom Christ Jesus is. God values His Person so highly that He has related His whole purpose to Him. The only way that you could be a part of His purpose was because He saw you in Christ Jesus.
Can you understand that you have taken part in that? As for me, I cannot. But it doesn’t depend on your or my understanding whether it is true. It is true because God has done that and as it is said already, “from all eternity”. That at the same time guarantees that nothing that has happened since creation, can change anything, even the slightest thing, on this purpose of God.
2 Timothy 1:10. Still we would not have been able to know anything of God’s plan if He had not revealed that through the appearance of our Savior Christ Jesus. The purpose of God was hidden in His counsel, but God revealed His purpose when Christ Jesus appeared in Whom He could give you that great grace to participate in His purpose. But take note! It was not without a reason that Paul precedes the name ‘Christ Jesus’ by the name ‘Savior’. It is about His appearance at His first coming to earth. Then He came as ‘Savior’.
Do you see through Whom God was able to save you? The name ‘Savior’ reminds us of His work on the cross. The work He achieved there was the way for God to execute His purpose, in order to save you and to call you with a holy calling. The only way for you to be able to partake of that was if the Savior would abolish death. Death, the wages of sin (Romans 6:23), formed the barrier against the execution of God’s purpose. That hindrance was robbed from its power by our Savior by going into death Himself and rising from it again.
In His resurrection He “brought life and immortality to light”. The power of the ‘life’ that characterized Him was proven by His resurrection. His life has triumphed over death. Not death but life is conqueror. You wouldn’t have known that if the Lord had not died and risen. You have received eternal life for the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, is eternal life. He who has the Son has life (1 John 5:12). The Son is the true God and eternal life (1 John 5:20). You believe in the Lord Jesus; you have the Son as your life.
Something else that was brought to light was ‘immortality’. That refers to the body. The body you now have is not immortal. The older you get the more you notice how it is declining, how its power dilutes and how it loses its youthful beauty. But when the Lord Jesus comes you will receive a body that will not be affected by the test of time. That body remains in all its freshness and purity through all eternity. That is also the result of the victory that the Lord Jesus has achieved over death. You see that they all are truths, facts of the faith that has been established completely outside yourself. That goes for both the purpose of God and for what the Lord Jesus has done when He appeared on earth.
Now there is still a question that has to be answered and that is: What did God do to enable you to see His purpose and that you would accept the work of the Lord Jesus as being accomplished for you? He did that “through the gospel”. The gospel is the means through which you have heard about God and what the Lord Jesus has achieved and how necessary His work has been for you. When you accepted the gospel you got saved by it and you got part of all these awesome things.
2 Timothy 1:11. God has appointed Paul to preach this gospel. He not only preached this good news (that is the meaning of the word ‘gospel’) to the Jews. This purpose of God dates back from before the foundation of the world and stands apart from the distinction between Jews and Gentiles. The ministry of Paul in the gospel extends to all people from all nations.
For this ministry as “a preacher” he obtained an appointment from God. You can hereby think of a herald, a messenger who is clothed with a formal authority, in order to pass on formal messages from e.g. kings or city councils, without changing anything about the message. This is how Paul preaches the gospel.
God also appointed him as “an apostle”. That has got more to do with a certain position. God has sent him and he who rejects him rejects God, his Sender.
Finally he is also “a teacher”. He teaches the content of the gospel. That content is Christ Jesus. Paul explains Who He is and what He has done.
2 Timothy 1:12. Paul wholeheartedly believes in the gospel. When he preaches he puts his whole heart in it. That’s not what the people, and particularly the Jews, are waiting for. This zealousness of Paul in the gospel is the reason of the suffering he is going through. But that doesn’t cause any change in his conviction.
He has exhorted Timothy not to be ashamed (2 Timothy 1:8). He can do that because he himself is not ashamed. No adversity can confuse him. That’s because he doesn’t believe in a dogma, a doctrine, but in a Person. He knows “whom” he has believed. He lives out of a living relationship with that Person.
He knows the power of that Person. He has already had so many experiences with that God that it caused him to now have a deeply rooted conviction pertaining Him. He has experienced many times what God is able to do. God has not been pushed away from the throne but He has all power. To Him Paul has entrusted what he had committed. That is the gospel that God has entrusted him (cf. 2 Timothy 1:14; 1 Timothy 6:20). He is imprisoned and is not able to freely travel around anymore and to work with that what was entrusted to him, but God remains and Paul knows that He will continue to work with what was entrusted to him.
In that way the gospel is still being preached and also his letter is still being read as you are now doing. Just like Paul is laying the results of his ministry in the hands of the Lord you can do that also. We do not have to keep the developments in our control. It is not our case, it is the church of God. We can be sure that whatever we give Him to keep will be safe with Him. Robbery or loss is impossible.
The certainty of this ‘preservation’ has a validity “until that day”, which is the day of the appearance of the Lord Jesus. It is the day that the Lord Jesus will reward everything. For the measurement of the reward the Lord doesn’t consider the success you have achieved, but whether you have been faithful to what He has ordered you to do. Then you will, like Paul, find back with Him everything that you have entrusted Him to keep for you. This is the attitude you can only develop by knowing in Whom you have believed.
Now read 2 Timothy 1:9-12 again.
Reflection: What do you learn in these verses about the purpose and the grace of God?
Word, Spirit and Mercy
2 Timothy 1:13. In the previous verses Paul spoke out his absolute confidence in the Lord Jesus. That is for Timothy, and also for you, of course a great exhortation to do the same. But still there is another reliable hold in a time of decay. That hold you have in the “sound words”. Paul points Timothy out that he should “retain” the ‘sound words’ he heard from him as “the standard”.
The word ‘standard’ is a ‘concept’ or ‘model’ or ‘draft’ of a set-up, composition, design. Paul speaks about the inspired Word of God. That ought to be kept completely. You are not to neglect or drop anything of it. Not only the content of the message is important, but also the words and their rank order are given by God with the purpose for us to hold on to that.
With creeds people may try to explain God’s Word in human words, but they still remain to be words of men and therefore imperfect. They also cannot protect us against the most trivial false doctrine. Only God’s Word is perfect and gives a full guarantee against deviation when we keep it as a standard. Each word of it stands on the right place where God intended it to be. God’s Word cannot to be improved. Don’t let yourself to be confused by sayings as: ‘It not about the word choice, but about the message.’ It is certainly about the word choice too.
I think that a warning for modern translations of the Bible is justified. I do not mean that a translation in the most possible old English language is the most faithful. The use of nowadays English certainly doesn’t exclude a good translation from the original text. No, the point is that only people with a living faith in the Lord Jesus and with great esteem for God’s Word are able to faithfully translate the Bible.
The making of a faithful translation is not dependent on technology or science, but on skills connected with the right approach of God’s Word. That right approach consists of the deep awareness of the holiness and authority of each word that God had let to be written down in His Word. If that is the mind you also have of reading God’s Word you will experience the saving power the Word has. The chance that you fall prey to false teachings is then absolutely excluded.
The original word for ‘sound’ has to do with hygiene and can therefore also be translated with ‘healthy making’. The words of Paul that were inspired have therefore the intention to improve the spiritual health. Still Paul adds something to it, namely that the example of the healthy words has to be retained “in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus”. When God’s Word is not connected to the Person of Christ, faith in the letter of the Scripture becomes a dead form. You can only retain the truth when you approach the word in faith and love. These are the two aspects or activities of the new life of which Christ is the source.
It is faith and love that are present and to be found in Him. It is only to be received from Him. From Him you learn how the daily confidence of faith focuses on God. You see that in His life on earth. From Him you also learn how the love of God focuses on men.
This addition is important because otherwise the standard would have become a template that causes the living faith life to sink and to become a dead orthodoxy. When faith and love in Christ are the active elements to retain the standard you will experience the support of the Word. Even if you couldn’t find any support in the church as a whole, due to the decline that has entered, you will, even if you’re alone, surely find help in God’s Word.
2 Timothy 1:14. There is still one more encouragement. After having pointed to the Lord Jesus and the Word of God, Paul speaks about “the Holy Spirit who dwells in us”. Paul is on the brink of dying the martyr’s death and going to his Lord. Timothy still has to remain here and you also are still here. The circumstances will not become easier and you will surely agree with that. The decline has become even worse. The attacks on the ministry of Timothy will become tougher. If you want to serve the Lord you will experience that too. Everything will cause such an increasing pressure on him, and on you, that you may want to give up "the treasure which has been entrusted to [you]". But listen: you are being exhorted to guard what has been entrusted to you.
Paul calls it a ‘treasure’, which means something beautiful, of Divine value. Also to you all the sound words of the Scripture have been committed as something of Divine value. That you must keep and not give up anything of it. You don’t have to do that in your own strength. It even is impossible to do that. It is being pointed out to you that the Holy Spirit dwells in you. He gives you the necessary power to guard what has been entrusted to you.
Each part of the truth that you have learnt to see and for which you have thanked God will be criticized by the enemy. But He Who dwells in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). He enables you to resist against each attack the enemy commits on the truth. The important thing is that you make sure that in no way you hinder the Holy Spirit to have total control over your life.
2 Timothy 1:15. You shouldn’t count much on the support of others in your fight “for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Paul points out to Timothy about the believers in Asia. Timothy knew that all in Asia have turned away from the apostle, while he, as a matter of fact, has intensively preached the gospel in that area. It was he who taught God’s thoughts to the many who had come to faith there.
You can for example read in the letters to the Thessalonians and in the letter to the Ephesians how he served the believers there. The elders of Ephesus were all in tears when he left them. What made them most sad was that they wouldn’t see him ever again (Acts 20:37-Zechariah :). Now some years have passed. And how is the situation there? The good memories of Paul have faded. They have even turned their back on him!
The man to whom they owe a lot is rejected by all of them and not only by an individual or a few. Why? They are possibly ashamed for him, the poor prisoner who fell into disgrace with the government. Of course they haven’t given up Christendom, but as far as they are concerned, Paul’s emphasis on being a Christian is too strong. You shouldn’t make efforts to create enemies, should you? That is true, but a faithful witness cannot help but make enemies. He doesn’t do that purposely, but actually, being faithful to the Lord and His truth exposes hostility.
Paul is imprisoned because he has witnessed the truth. Therefore turning away from Paul is in fact turning away from the truth that Paul preaches. That has made his imprisonment much heavier. He mentions two of those who have turned away from him by their names. It must have been necessary to mention these names. It is not unlikely that these are leading brothers with great influence who are misusing their influence and the exclusion of Paul to deceive the church. By mentioning their names Paul exposes them.
2 Timothy 1:16. He also mentions another name, but with joy. The faithfulness of Onesiphorus and his house has been a blessing to him in the midst of all the unfaithfulness that he had experienced. This faithful believer has not been ashamed for God’s faithful servant. Onesiphorus has “refreshed”, a word that literally means ‘to cool’, the apostle in the heat of the persecution. This refreshment Paul experienced when in his imprisonment he unexpectedly saw the face of Onesiphorus appear.
2 Timothy 1:17. It must have done the lonesome prisoner well to be visited by someone who made an effort to come to him. It would not be easy to find Paul, but it must have made Onesiphorus tremendously grateful to the Lord when he could finally embrace Paul. His efforts were not in vain. And how enormously grateful Paul must have been to the Lord. Have you also ever experienced refreshment when believers told you that they were praying for you or supporting you when you were in trouble?
Onesiphorus had no address of where to find Paul, but he must have prayed to the Lord Who could lead him to Paul. And the Lord did it, yet, not by bringing him through the shortest and quickest way to Paul. No, Onesiphorus had to ask the Lord time after time if he was on the right track. When you ask the guidance of the Lord to achieve something of which you know that He wants it, it doesn’t mean that you will easily accomplish that goal. The Lord wants you to commit yourself to it. In that way He wants to teach you to depend on Him at every step you make.
2 Timothy 1:18. Paul wishes that the Lord will reward the household of Onesiphorus because of the mercy he received from him (Matthew 5:7). His ‘household’ – it seems that he was married and had children and probably even his own domestic workers – fully supported the actions of Onesiphorus. They let him go and they must have sent their greetings and probably goods for Paul. What a great blessing it is when there are also households today of which all the family members want to remain faithful to the truth and make efforts for those who preach it.
Then Paul also wishes that the Lord will grant to Onesiphorus that he may find mercy from the Lord “on that day” (cf. Jude 1:21). In this way Paul adds to his earlier wishes that the Lord will reward Onesiphorus for his efforts before the judgment seat. ‘That day’ is also the day that the Lord will appear with His reward (2 Timothy 1:12; Revelation 22:12).
Onesiphorus is not a stranger to Timothy. He made the acquaintance of him at Ephesus and could tell, even better than Paul, how this man has made it a habit to serve the Lord and His matters. It is wonderful when there are people in a local church of whom can be said that they have performed many services. Wouldn’t it be a joy for the Lord and the church when this can also be said of you after some time?
Now read 2 Timothy 1:13-18 again.
Reflection: How do you manage to retain the standard of the sound words?
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Timothy 1". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany