Sunday, 11 March 2018
Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:13
Paul now exhorts Timothy to go further than he has thus far. He has been implored to not be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord (v.8), but now he is told that a “pattern” has been laid down in order to do this. The word is found only here and in 1 Timothy 1:16. It indicates an outline, or a sketch. Thus, Paul is telling Timothy that he has been given an outline already that he is to not deviate from. He says this with, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words.” Timothy’s ears have received the necessary pattern from Paul which he was then to follow. As he says further, “which you have heard from me.”
While Paul and Timothy traveled, evangelized, and taught, Timothy learned the outline of sound doctrine from his mentor. He had also encountered the Judaizers and false teachers who would tear the flock away from the simple gospel which is found in Christ Jesus the Lord. But Paul seems to indicate now that Timothy himself is susceptible to being led astray – and it is so. This is not just a warning for Timothy, but for all. It is as natural as breathing to want to include oneself in any such equation. But the gospel – from beginning to end – must be about Christ alone. Paul’s exhortation is a simple, but forceful, reminder that there is a pattern which has been set, and which needs to be held fast to. There is to be no wavering from it, and no going outside the lines which have been carefully laid down for those of the faith.
And further, Paul encourages him to hold fast to it “in faith.” One can teach about Jesus without faith. Even a person of faith can do so. The difference is often noticeable to those who hear. Teachers cannot allow teaching to become rote and lifeless. Instead, as with Paul exhorting Timothy, they are to hold fast to the faith, and to teach in faith. In so doing, those they teach will be enlivened by the faith which comes from the teacher who is faithful. Added to that by Paul is also “love.” A message can be mechanical, as if piecing together components of something. A message can be angry, it can be filled with bitterness, or it can be subversive. Such teachings are not in love. One can be wholly opposed to something, like abortion, but they can present the message in a stern but loving way. Righteous indignation does not have to include unrighteous anger.
To teach in faith and love then is what is proper, but there is already an example to follow. It is those “which are in Christ Jesus.” He is the object of our faith, and He is love. By contemplating His words, by following His example, and by speaking in a manner which emulates Him, the man of God will hold fast the pattern of sound words, in the proper way. But again, Paul says the pattern is the one “you have heard from me.” The gospel message to the Gentile led church is given by the hand of Paul. It outlines our doctrine in Christ Jesus, and it is to be adhered to and passed on in faith and love.
Life application: For sound church age doctrine, we are to follow Paul’s epistles as the outline. Everything else is to be taken in relation to them. Understanding this context will keep the rest of Scripture properly aligned for us as we read it and assimilate it into our lives.
Lord God, grant to us the wisdom of applying the proper context of Scripture to our lives, our doctrine, and our teaching. Amen.