Saturday, 10 March 2018
For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. 2 Timothy 1:12
“For this reason” speaks of Paul’s ministry. He “was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” And these three were based on the gospel message. Therefore, it is his proclamation of the gospel message that, as he says, “I also suffer these things.” Paul was in prison at this time for his faithful proclamation of the gospel. But Timothy was well aware of much more suffering than just imprisonment. Paul had continuously been subjected to difficulty. He writes of such trials a couple times, but most notably in 2 Corinthians 11. There, in referring to himself in relation to others, he says –
“Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?” 2 Corinthians 11:23-29
Paul had suffered and yet endured through so much. It had been inflicted by the Romans, but it had also been inflicted by his own people. The note of having received stripes was a Jewish punishment. The note of having been beaten with rods was a Roman one. Both were considered corrective measures for malefactors. Thus they were designed to bring shame upon the person in order to change their attitude. But for these, and all other sufferings he says, “nevertheless I am not ashamed.”
His words here are certainly being given as an example to Timothy. He would also surely suffer as well if he faithfully carried out his duties. Paul had risen above the sufferings, and he felt no shame at proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Timothy is being encouraged to do likewise. It is a sentiment that Peter builds upon in his first epistle –
For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
With this same noble attitude which is explained by Peter being found in Paul, he continues with the words, “for I know whom I have believed.” The word “believed” signifies “to trust” in this case. One can believe in something, but not trust in it. One can believe in the Supreme Court of the United States, but he may not always trust in the decisions they will render.
However, what Paul believes in is also his source of trust. He knew the work of Christ was of God. He knew that Christ’s work was sufficient to save him from his sins. He knew that in being declared guilt free, he was justified. He knew that in being justified, he was positionally glorified, and that he would be actually glorified someday. There was a deep-seated trust in this which could not be beaten out of him, and it could not be wrung out of him through imprisonment. It was steadfast in him to the end. As he says in confirmation of this, he is “persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him.”
What fear had Paul in any trial? What remorse had he in any public punishment? What temptation of walking away from the Lord did he have because of his suffering? There was nothing that could deter him from the course he had set because he knew the character of God. He is ever-faithful to keep that which is committed to Him. The body could be beaten, imprisoned, crushed, and brought to its end, but the bonds of even death itself had been defeated. The Jubilee for the captive had been proclaimed, and the human soul which belonged to God because of Christ was free. This was a certainty from the unchanging God who carefully tended to that which had been entrusted to Him “until that Day.”
The day he speaks of is the day when Christ will come for His people as described in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4. Paul had already explained the doctrine of the rapture to the church in those epistles, something that Timothy was surely aware of. On that wondrous day, the soul would be united to an eternal body; one which would never suffer, never endure shame, and one which will possess a glory unimagined by man at this time. Paul knew this lay ahead, and so he stood ready to possess it without fear.
Life application: How certain are you of the faith you proclaim? How ready are you to suffer for it, or to even die for it? A little bit of faith is all that is needed to bring you to a right relationship with God. But exercising your faith through study of the word will cause it to deepen to a point that you can truly say, “No fear here. I belong to Christ. Nothing will diminish that.” Stay in the word, meditate on it always, and be grounded in what you believe.
Most glorious heavenly Father. Are we ready to face difficulties for our faith in Christ Jesus? Can we confidently say, “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” Are we so grounded in our faith that we are willing to proclaim it even when it will bring difficulty to our day? Help us to never shrink back from what we believe. May the certainty of Christ in us be the rule and guide for all we do. To Your glory we pray. Amen.