2 Timothy 2:10

Monday, 26 March 2018

Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 2 Timothy 2:10

In verse 9, Paul said concerning his proclamation of the gospel, “for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains.” Before that, he gave comparisons concerning the rights and responsibilities of teaching others about Christ Jesus. He spoke of the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer. They endured the challenges of their profession in order to achieve a good result. Because of these things, Paul now says, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect.”

His many trials, physical hardships and deprivations, imprisonments, and so on, were for the sake of the elect. He had just said that “the word of God is not chained.” He was willing to take this unchained message and proclaim it even if it led to chains, and even in his chains. The elect are those who will obtain salvation through Jesus Christ. This is clearly explained in the words, “that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus.” This is a statement similar to 1 Thessalonians 5:9 –

“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Relevant questions to be asked are, “Who are the elect?”, and “How does their election come about?” For the Gentile-led church age, Paul shows in Romans 15:29 that a certain number of Gentiles will come in before the partial blindness of Israel is lifted. Elsewhere, the church is equated to a building (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 3:9 & Ephesians 2:21). A building is a structure with a set size. Therefore, there are a set number who will obtain salvation in order to form this building. The “how” of the process is explained by Paul in this verse and elsewhere. It is through his proclamation of the gospel, and of any others who proclaim it.

As this is so, there is necessarily to be an active part by those already saved in order to get this word out to others. Paul and others actively wrote the epistles, and that effort will lead to some being saved. Paul and others actively proclaimed the message, and that effort will lead to some being saved, etc. This implies free will on the part of those sharing the message. They could say, “Today, I won’t go out and evangelize.” If this is their decision, then there are some who will miss hearing the words necessary for them to be saved. His words also imply free will on the part of those who then hear that message. He says he endured all of these things “that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus.”

If people are saved apart from free will, then there would be no need for Paul to even say this. But somebody must share, and there must be a response to the message which is shared. Just because God knows the number of people in advance of completing the building, and just because He knows who will accept the message, it in no way negates free will in the process. In fact, as Jesus and the apostles all show, free will is a necessary part of this equation – believe, call on, receive, etc., are all active words requiring a person to respond to what they have been presented.

Once responded to, Paul says that this salvation comes “with eternal glory.” To be saved implies “from.” One is saved from something bad unto something good. If a person is drowning in the ocean, they must be saved from that. If someone is in a burning house, the fireman will go in to save him. This is what salvation is meant to bring about, a rescue. However, in salvation comes something extra, eternal glory. We aren’t just saved to live out eternity in these fallen, corruptible bodies which get sick, get tired, get cancer, etc. Rather, we are destined to receive new and incorruptible bodies (see 1 Corinthians 15). There is glory for the redeemed, and it will be eternal in duration.

Life application: Paul was willing to suffer a great deal in order get the only saving message for fallen men out. Without his (and other’s) efforts, there can be no salvation. A person who does not hear the message will not be saved. This is the means of salvation that God has chosen, and He will not violate that by doing an end run around the labors of His people. Paul makes this clear. Faith in the messages is what saves, and faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. What effort are you willing to exert in order for others to be saved?

Glorious heavenly Father, You have chosen the means of man’s redemption, and You have given us the task of getting that word out. Man is saved through faith in the finished work of Christ, and salvation is found in no other. We are told that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Help us to be willing to open our mouths and speak. Eternity hangs in the balance for all people. Let us feel the weight of our inaction, and respond by acting. Amen.

2 Timothy 2:9

Sunday, 25 March 2018

…for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 2 Timothy 2:9

The words, “for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer” are referring to Paul’s proclamation of the gospel. For speaking of the only message that can free humanity from the bondage of imprisonment and slavery to sin, Paul is himself held as a prisoner. His pen brings forth the irony of the situation. Although translator’s preference allows any of various words to be selected for a given original word, the use of “evildoer” is not a great choice. A person can do wrong without actually doing evil. Paul is held by the Romans for supposed wrongdoing according to their law. Thus, a word such as “criminal” would be a better choice of translation to form the proper analogy. The meaning here is technical rather than moral.

It is as a criminal that he is held, “even to the point of chains.” This is not a unique occurrence in Paul’s life. In Ephesians 6, he asked for prayers from those at Ephesus by saying, “that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19, 20). Paul was bound because of the gospel. It inhibited his ability to get out and speak, but even in his chains, he still proclaimed the word to whoever was around. He also continued to write letters, encouraging the churches he had ministered to, and providing doctrine for their continued growth. And so he next says that even though he was chained, “the word of God is not chained.”

At times while chained, Paul was able to speak forth the words of salvation to others, even to kings and governors. This is seen, for example, in Acts 26 –

“And Paul said, ‘I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.’” Acts 26:29

He repeats the sentiment in his letter to those at Philippi –

“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 1:13, 14

Paul found that every possible cunning attempt, by devil and by man, was made to silence the gospel, but yet it continued to go forth. His unselfish attitude towards his Lord, and towards the message of salvation found in Christ Jesus, kept the word going. His letters did so as well, and they continue to do so 2000 years later. And based on this precious book called the Bible, which includes these letters, people are willing to follow in Paul’s example and speak boldly of Christ Jesus, even to chains or death.

Life application: How important to you is the message of salvation found in Christ Jesus? Are you willing to proclaim it, even at the expense of your freedom? What about at the expense of your life? Is that which is of infinite value worth your finite, temporary proclamation?

Lord God, how willing are we to proclaim the gospel message of Jesus Christ? This good news, which is of infinite value, often doesn’t seem as important to us as a temporary sports game, or a Hollywood movie. We put more care and attention in keeping our car clean than we do in telling others about the only way to find peace with You. Where are our priorities? Help us to set them straight, and to honor You with the lives You have redeemed by telling others of this good news. Amen.

2 Timothy 2:8

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, 2 Timothy 2:8

The KJV and the NKJV are incorrect in their translation of this verse. The order is wrong, and the word “that” is incorrectly supplied. It should read: “Remember Jesus Christ, raised out of the dead, of the seed of David, according to my good news” (YLT). By diverting from the proper order of the Greek, the actual focus is wholly obscured. It is first on Christ Jesus – Remember Christ Jesus. “Christ” means “Messiah” or “Anointed One.” He is the fulfillment of the messianic promises which existed from the very fall of man. From there, the focus is directed to the raising of Christ from the dead. The Anointed One is alive, now and forever.

Paul has been speaking of the hardships a minister will encounter, and also of the responsibilities and benefits which go with the position. But things for a minister, by the very nature of the job, will be difficult on good days and almost overly burdensome on bad days. If the job were just a regular one, meaning with no connection to Christ Jesus, he who filled it would surely become despondent rather quickly. But it is not.

The job of a minister is one which is based on factual history. As this history is the basis for being a minister, it is to be remembered and considered at all times. Jesus Christ was raised out of the dead. He is a literal, physical human being who suffered and died in the execution of His duties – given to Him to perform by God.

However, in properly performing His role, He prevailed over death; having died without sin of His own. Thus it demonstrates that His death is sufficient for the removal of the sins of His people He died for (substitution). As this is so, then death can no longer hold them either. Christ’s death is a one-time act with eternal ramifications. Paul is telling Timothy that his duties as a minister have eternal significance, and that should prompt him on during even the lowest moment of his ministerial life.

From this remarkable point of surety, he then says that Jesus Christ is “of the seed of David.” His words here are given to substantiate and validate Christ’s human nature – both before and after the resurrection. As a human, He truly died. As a human, He truly rose. Being “of the seed of David” also confirms His acceptability as Messiah. The Lord’s promise to, and covenant with, David concerning the Messiah (2 Samuel 7) is that He would come from David’s line.

The ancestral line of Christ, which is clearly recorded in the Gospels; the work He performed; the death He died; and the resurrection He was given; all point to His fulfillment of Scripture. This is what Timothy is being asked to remember when he is downtrodden and worn out from the battle. The remembrance of these truths is to be the elixir which will pick him up and set him on his feet once again.

Paul then finishes up with, “according to my gospel.” The message he preached was committed to him by Christ personally. It was a bestowal which is in accord with sound doctrine anticipated in the Old Testament, and which is realized in the work of Jesus Christ. He calls it “my gospel,” because it is a personal gospel to him as much as it is a proclamation for others to hear. And yet, elsewhere Paul speaks of “our gospel.” It is in the plural (1 Thessalonians 1:5 & 2 Thessalonians 2:14). In this, he shows that though the gospel is personal, it is not his anymore than it is for all other ministers who preach it. The thought is similar to saying, “I love my Jesus,” and yet a group can say, “O how we love our Jesus.” Like the gospel message, He is both a personal Savior, and the Savior of all who are saved.”

Paul’s words here in 2 Timothy are reflected by his opening words to those in Rome –

“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Romans 1:1-4

Life application: Paul is speaking to Timothy as a minister who will surely face immense difficulties and times of great trial. But the words of this verse belong to all in Christ. We should remember Christ Jesus, raised from the dead, of the seed of David at all times. What God has done in Him is something we can reflect on, and hold securely in our hearts at all times. It is the great reassurance that all is ok!

Lord God, it is true that we face times of real trial and difficulty, but as followers of Christ, if we just redirect our thoughts and minds to what He accomplished, we can let go of the troubles and stresses we face. He came, He lived, He died, and He rose again. The theology which is tied up in that thought should be enough to keep us upbeat and content through any time of trouble that we face. Hallelujah! Christ has prevailed. Amen.

2 Timothy 2:7

Friday, 23 March 2018

Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. 2 Timothy 2:7

Paul now gives an exhortation as to the words he has just passed on to Timothy. The words, “Consider what I say,” are present and active. It gives the sense of “Consider what I am saying.” For this reason, some scholars tie his words not to what he has just said (concerning the comparisons concerning the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer), but to what he is about to say concerning the great and theologically weighty words about Jesus Christ in the verse to come. Either way, Paul is asking Timothy to reflect heavily upon his words. It is something that Timothy would certainly do concerning what has been said, and also what will be said.

From there, he says, “and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.” A slight variation in the word “will give” in some manuscripts causes the sentence to read, “for the Lord will give you understanding in all things.” Whether Paul is making a petition, or whether he is stating this as a certainty, it actually doesn’t change the intent of the words as much as some might argue. The reason is that Paul began the sentence with “Consider what I say.” Timothy must first make an active attempt to think on Paul’s words before a result will come. In doing so, Paul is praying for his protege to gain an understanding (something one would anticipate the Lord granting), or he confidently states that the Lord will provide needed understanding.

Either way, Timothy is to reflect on the instruction of the apostle, setting the example for others in the ministry to act likewise. One who is ordained to the ministry is expected to actively pursue the things of the ministry, first and foremost that of knowing the set directions for ministering. It is the words of Scripture which provide that knowledge, and so the man of God is to read, contemplate, and apply Scripture to his life. It is to be an active and ongoing part of his life at all times.

Even if “for the Lord will give you…” is the true reading, the words of Paul here cannot be carried around and misquoted as a talisman that someone will automatically have understanding in all things as if the Spirit simply illuminates the believer to be perfect in knowledge and doctrine. Unfortunately, this is the attitude that many have, and it always leads to poor doctrine. Rather, the words, “Consider what I say,” are key. Be wise, contemplate the word always, and keep all things in proper context.

Life application: There is no easy path to sound theology. It takes a tremendous amount of reading the word. From there, that knowledge of Scripture can be taken into consideration when being trained in theology. As there are many views on major doctrines, not all can be correct. In first knowing Scripture, one can more readily weed out that which is incorrect. Read the word, read the word, and read the word some more. After having this sound foundation, then study the doctrines of theology. This is a wise and sound course of obtaining proper theological knowledge.

Lord God, how good it is to have Your word available to us in so many ways. We have a large variety of versions to give us better understanding into original intent. We have hard copies, digital copies, and audio Bibles – all ready for our use. We have concordances and commentaries galore. But there is one thing we often lack – commitment. We have time for novels, time for TV, and time for internet activities. But Lord, we don’t make time for the study of the most important thing we can pursue… You. Help us to correct this gigantic flaw in our lives. May we pursue You first, not last or never. Amen.

2 Timothy 2:6

Thursday, 22 March 2018

The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. 2 Timothy 2:6

Paul now goes to another metaphor to describe the responsibilities and benefits of being a minister of the Lord. He began with the soldier, he then moved to the athlete, and now he speaks of the farmer by saying, “The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.”

Speaking of the soldier, he relayed the concept of obedience by ministers to Christ, and not mixing in the affairs of the world. In his words about the athlete, he conveyed the message that the minister of the Lord was to conduct his affairs according to the set rules, implying the word of God. Now, in these words about farmers, he is showing that there are other requirements, and also benefits, of the ministerial office.

When a farmer works his land, he takes what is necessary for himself before selling off his produce to others. He takes enough for food for himself and his family. He takes enough to feed his animals. He also sets aside enough to be used for planting future crops. All of this happens before he sells his first bushel to others. It is a laborious, time-consuming process. It takes great exertion of energy and dedication in order to come to this state. If he has not cared for his own house first, then he will fail as a farmer in the future. The same is then true with the minister.

In this lesson, there is both a spiritual and a physical aspect to be understood. First, from a spiritual aspect, the minister must feed himself with the word. There must be a dedicated effort of growing in the word, cultivating it, and caring for it. Any minister who has not put his effort into the spiritual growth of his harvest will be a pretty horrible minister. Further, he must ensure that his family is set in the word as well, living in accordance with its precepts. And he must store up his knowledge of the word for the future. He must always be ready to apply it to his life and actions.

Secondly, the minister must tend to his needs in a physical sense as well. He must sow into his crop, tend to it, harvest it, and store up what is needed. Some pastors are known for giving of themselves to the point of having nothing left to give. Paul would call this unwise. There must be a store from which one can be willing to give, and it must be accessed with wisdom and prudence. If it is depleted, then it is he who will then be the soul needing other’s help. If it doesn’t come, then there will be no ministry at all.

Paul speaks of this elsewhere of this general precept in 1 Corinthians 9 –

For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? 1 Corinthians 9:9-12

Life application: The minister’s job is one which must be cultivated through hard work, and it is also a job which requires the minister to be wise and careful in how he deals with both his physical and spiritual gain. To allow either to fall into shortage will cause him to be less effective in his ministerial duties. There must be a storehouse which will be accessible for the future to meet the obvious needs which will arise in his own life, in that of his family, and also in the ministry.

Lord God, Your word tells us to save for our children’s children, while at the same time we are instructed to help meet the needs of others as they arise. Help us to be cautious and careful to do the former, and yet to not let the latter fall by the wayside. Give us wisdom in helping out in needs that are truly needs as we are able to do so. Thank You for being with us as we proceed. Amen.