Saturday, 21 April 2018
But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 2 Timothy 3:10
Paul now contrasts Timothy with those who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” He says of him, “But you have carefully followed my doctrine.” It is important to know the true intent of this word is “followed.” The older KJV says, “But you have fully known my doctrine.” That fails to convey the meaning of Paul’s words. One can know to do right and yet not do it. The word “doctrine” here, means literally “teaching,” but either conveys the idea sufficiently. Paul is complementing Timothy on not only knowing his doctrine, but having followed it.
Timothy had traveled with Paul, he had seen him teach, preach, and evangelize. He had read his letters, and he had talked with him about things that were on his mind. After this, he took that great store of information, and he followed it; applying it to his own life, doctrine, and practice. How unlike so many who go to a sound seminary, are trained in proper theology, and then lead a church down a winding path of confusion and discord! Timothy was doing well in following Paul’s doctrine. But he also followed his “manner of life.”
It is a single Greek word, agógé, used only here in Scripture. It signifies leading or guiding, and thus a mode of life. Timothy was led by Paul, and he continued to follow that leading. This idea is conveyed, exactingly, concerning Timothy to those at Corinth –
“For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.” 1 Corinthians 4:17
Along with this, he followed Paul’s “purpose.” The word is used to describe the show-bread (the consecrated bread) of the tabernacle. Thus it signifies “purposely set forth.” Paul’s life was set forth for a specific purpose by Christ. Timothy was following that purpose as well.
Next, he is noted as having followed Paul’s “faith.” This may be speaking of simple trust in the Lord, as is outlined in Romans 10:9, 10. However, it may more be describing his faithfulness. In other words, it is a purposeful following of proper doctrines found in sound theology. Timothy knew them, and he applied them faithfully to his life.
Further, Paul notes that Timothy was faithful in following his “longsuffering.” If anyone could be considered longsuffering, it would be Paul. Several times in his letters, Paul speaks of the trials he faced. But despite them, he pressed onward. He didn’t just quit and sit around waiting for the rapture. He continued to place himself in a position of difficulty in order to get the gospel message out. To see one of Paul’s descriptions of his trials today, read 2 Corinthians 11:16-33.
After that, Paul notes that Timothy followed him in “love.” Paul describes love in 1 Corinthians 13. He wouldn’t send on such a marvelous description without taking the time to apply it to his own life. Timothy read the letter, saw the man applying it to self, and followed along on that same treasured path of love. Paul commends him for it now.
Finally, the verse notes Timothy’s perseverance. Merriam Webster defines perseverance as, “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failures, or opposition.” Paul was longsuffering through his trials, and he persevered despite them. In other words, he didn’t just accept the trials as the necessary end to his work. He saw them as a part of his work. And so he persevered through them. Timothy saw this most marvelous trait in Paul, and he followed it closely, even right at his heels. Where Paul stepped, he stepped as well, pushing ahead despite everything that attempted to hinder his forward motion.
Life application: Don’t get stuck in a single, fallible, translation of Scripture. Timothy didn’t just “fully know” Paul’s doctrine, manner of life, etc. He applied it to his own life, following it into the same hazardous conditions that he had already seen his beloved mentor face. “To know” does not necessarily mean “to do.” Be complete in your knowledge, and then get up, get out, and perform!
Lord God, thank You for the amazing abundance of Bible availability we have in today’s world. Where people just a few generations ago may have had one Bible in their house, we have multiple translations at our fingertips – including the original languages. We also have digital copies, audio Bibles, commentaries, study tools, and on and on and on and on! We are the blessed generation who can feed on Your word until sated, and then we can overindulge a bit more. But do we? Help us to do so! Amen.