2 Timothy 2:5

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5

Paul now changes his comparison from the soldier to an athlete to continue to open Timothy’s mind to proper Christian life. He says, “And also if anyone competes in athletics.” The word is found only in this verse (twice), athleó. It means to wrestle; to compete as an athlete. One can see the germ of our modern word “athletics” in it. Paul returns to what is an obvious favorite metaphor of his, that of the Grecian games. He uses it elsewhere, such as in 1 Corinthians 9 –

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

For all who compete, Paul notes that “he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” How obvious this is in the modern Olympics. Doping is not allowed; it is one of the rules of the game. If someone is found to be using steroids or other physically enhancing drugs, they are rejected. The same was true in Paul’s time. The athletes had certain rules in which to conduct themselves. If they did not complete accordingly, they not only failed to receive a crown, but they would be disqualified completely.

But the crown is what all of the years of training was intended to obtain! And so only a desperate person, or a truly deceitful fool, would attempt to break the rules. In Paul equating the work of the minister to the athletes in Greece, he is showing that ministers must strive according to the rules set down for them – Scripture. To not follow the manual, is to disqualify oneself for the prize. How many preachers, teachers, priests, and pastors think they will receive the inheritance simply because of the title they held! And yet, which of those failed to run their course in faith? For those who do not run according to the rules, there shall be no crown awaiting them.

Life application: The finest manager, the greatest orator, the seemingly wisest counselor, or the most knowledgeable theologian, may not even be on the right track while running the race. It is the unwise congregant that sits in a church only because he appreciates one of these qualities in their minister. A meticulous manager who increases the church’s size and budget may be skimming the till in the process. A great orator may be preaching a completely false gospel. A counselor’s instruction may not even be biblical. And the most noted Bible scholar of all may not actually have faith in what he is teaching. Be sure to properly evaluate your leader to ensure that he is running his race according to the rules.

Lord God, You have given Your ministers a set of guidelines in order for them to run the race set before them. Give us wisdom to evaluate our leaders according to that set standard. Let us not be awe-struck by flashy oration, good looks, supposedly deep knowledge, or great planning and growth. Instead, let us evaluate our ministers based on how they adhere to Your word, and in the faith that they exhibit in Christ Jesus. May nothing else sway our minds but their running the race according to the rules already laid down for us. Amen.

2 Timothy 2:4

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:4

Continuing on with the simile of the previous verse (being as a soldier), Paul next says to Timothy, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life.” When people are enlisted in the military, that is their sphere of life. This may appear less so in modern times, but Paul is writing during the time of the Roman empire. They lived as soldiers, they trained as soldiers, the served under their commanders as soldiers, and they – if called to do so – suffered, fought, and died as soldiers. Even today, those in the military have lives set apart for the call of the service which is different than those in civilian life.

This is their profession, and the affairs of a civilian life are set apart from their conduct as military men. Civilians go to work, they come home to their family, they buy and they sell, and they go on vacations if time and money permit. In a host of other ways as well, the life of a civilian is entirely different than those of a military man. Further and especially, civilians have a different structure of leadership. The military has a set line of command, and soldiers are dedicated to their commander’s authority.

Because of this, the soldier does not get involved in regular civilian affairs. The soldier’s priority and conduct are first and foremost geared toward that of the military so “that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.” The soldier isn’t concerned about a civilian boss, and he isn’t concerned about a company’s profit. He was enlisted into the military by an overall military commander, and it is to that individual that he is to show his allegiance.

Paul’s words are to be equated to the minister of Christ, and to Christ who has chosen him for the ministry. Timothy is being instructed that his allegiance is to be first, foremost, and solely to the Lord Jesus. This is certainly true with all Christians, but Paul is addressing Timothy as a minister. He is ensuring that nothing of worldly entanglement will draw him away from his wholehearted allegiance to serving his Commander, Jesus. As an interesting connection to this thought, the Constitution of the State of Tennessee states the following –

Article IX. Disqualifications.

Section 1. Whereas ministers of the Gospel are by their profession, dedicated to God and the care of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their functions; therefore, no minister of the Gospel, or priest of any denomination whatever, shall be eligible to a seat in either House of the Legislature. Section 2. No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.

In the Tennessee constitution, they consider ministers in the light which the Bible proclaims here in 2 Timothy. Their calling is one which, by necessity, should preclude them from becoming entangled in the full-time political affairs of the House of the Legislature. Atheists, being morally unqualified because of their lack of belief, are also prohibited from holding office. If their oaths cannot be trusted, their moral direction is therefore unreliable and perverse. Good job Tennessee!

Life application: Atheists in Tennessee are no different than atheists anywhere else. The difference is that Tennessee’s constitution explicitly recognizes what others fail to see. If a person does not believe in a Creator, they thus acknowledge that there is no afterlife where judgment will be executed on humanity. Because of this, they believe they are not accountable for immoral decisions made now. Therefore, they identify themselves as wholly unsuited to make decisions on behalf of people who are moral beings. Consider this as you place your vote for those in public office. Find out what they believe, and base your voting decisions, first and foremost, on a sound, moral, and godly standard.

Lord God, when we vote as citizens of a nation, our thoughts first and foremost should always be, “Is this person going to act in a godly manner, honoring of you?” Help us to remember this, and to never vote for any person who would be willing to support abortion, societal perversion, or immoral levels of taxation – taking from earners and giving to the indolent. May our votes be cast while honoring You. Amen.

2 Timothy 2:3

Monday, 19 March 2018

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 2 Timothy 2:3

Within the verse, the words chosen by Paul include the thought of “with.” In essence, Paul is telling Timothy that he is not alone in the hardships he will endure. What he says conveys the idea of, “You therefore, must endure hardships along with me.” Paul is in prison, and he is suffering privation and loneliness. Along with that, his entire ministry is one which was fraught with troubles. One good list of them is given in 2 Corinthians 11. There he provides a record of his trials that Timothy would have been fully aware of –

“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 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, inperils 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 11:22-29

Although Timothy would probably be spared from the majority of these difficulties, Paul is letting him know that his work, by nature, would bring out hardships. And so, he was to remember that Paul suffered, and he was simply joining him in that honor.

From there Paul tells him to endure those hardships “as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” The life of a soldier is typically filled with deprivations and difficulties. They sleep in the rain, they often go without proper food. They are attacked constantly. They face extreme physical trials. But more, they tend to face these many trials without complaint. A soldier is expected to follow his leader faithfully. As soldiers of Jesus Christ, if we are faithful and obedient, whatever comes our way is because He has allowed it to occur. Paul is telling Timothy (and thus anyone who is faithful in the ministry) that this is what is expected in following after our Commander.

Life application: The life of a faithful minister is one which is guaranteed to be quite difficult at times, and almost always very tiring. As the enemy lobs in his spears and shoots his arrows, the minister has to be ready for them, and to put his trust and faith even more in the Lord who is leading. The question for you is, “Are you acting on the Lord’s behalf, or are you acting on the enemy’s behalf, as you interact with your pastor, preacher, or minister?”

Lord God, You have ordained that those who follow You faithfully in the ministry are to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. As a faithful Commander, Jesus will never lead His people into a battle which cannot be won. And so remind Your church leaders this, instilling in their hearts that they have all of heaven’s power to fight off the enemy and win the battle in which they are engaged. May your faithful ministers bring You glory as they fight on. Amen.

2 Timothy 2:2

Sunday, 18 March 2018

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2

Paul just told Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Now, in order that this will continue on beyond Timothy, he gives the admonition of this verse. “And the things that you have heard,” are certainly all of the teachings that have come to Timothy’s ears throughout many travels, in numerous congregations, and in open forums. Paul had been a faithful herald of God’s word to the people he encountered, and Timothy had been with him for a great amount of that time. He wanted Timothy to remember all of what had been entrusted to him. And these things were, as it says, “among many witnesses.”

Paul had spoken before Jew and Gentile; in synagogue and home-church; in marketplaces and on ships; to the high and the low; to kings and to jailers. Whenever Timothy was with him, he was a witness as were these others. Paul implored him to remember these things, and to remember that they were spoken openly and to all. It is the gospel of salvation for all people, and for all circumstances. It was this precious message, and all the doctrine which accompanied it, which he now instructs Timothy to, “commit these to faithful men.”

Timothy is asked to entrust these instructions not just to believers in general, but to faithful men. There are believers who are unfaithful. There are believers who are not competent in the ministry. There are believers who are otherwise morally unqualified because of lingering sin. And so on. These things may be taught to them for instruction, but not as a means of making them instructors. Paul is speaking specifically about furthering the church in a leadership capacity. And this is all the more evident with his final words of the verse, “who will be able to teach others.”

Like being a plumber or an architect, teaching is a skill. It can be naturally acquired, or it can be cultivated over time by some. There are others who will never make good teachers. Paul is asking Timothy to be observant, and to be aware of those who would make good teachers. It is implied that he is then to be aware of those who would not make good teachers as well. The word of God is to be handled carefully, not sloppily or by those who are unqualified to teach it. This is the intent behind Paul’s words in this verse.

Life application: Let us remember the admonition to Timothy in this verse. Churches are not authorized by Scripture to ordain just anyone as a teacher or preacher. Only proven leaders who already possess the necessary qualifications should be behind the ordination and training processes necessary to raise up qualified leaders in such matters.

Heavenly Father, You have given churches the honor of selecting men whom they wish to be their leaders. We pray that each church only select those men who have first proven themselves to other qualified leaders as being properly trained in Your word, and in the ability to teach it and preach it effectively. Without this, there is only one sad direction a church can go, and that is away from You. Help us to be careful in this, O God. Amen.

2 Timothy 2:1

Saturday, 17 March 2018

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:1

Paul now redirects his focus and attention on his “son” Timothy. He has been speaking of those who were faithless, Phygellus and Hermogenes of verse 1:15; and of Onesiphous who remained faithful as is recorded in verses 1:16-18. He is also referring to himself as noted in verses 1:11, 12. Now, in his redirect to Timothy, he says, “You therefore…” He is asking Timothy to consider what he has said, and to learn from it.

In essence, “I know whom I have believed, and who will keep what I have committed until that Day. I know who has been unfaithful and who will suffer loss because of it. And, I know who has shown faithfulness to me during my own trials, and who has presented himself strong in the Lord. Understanding these things, my son, ‘be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.’”

There is a well that one can draw from, and which will keep a believer strong and faithful. That well is “the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” As an external source, we can turn to 2 Corinthians 12:9 and see how the Lord provides it to those who need it –

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

And as a well which is filled by that external source, and which can then be drawn on in times of need, we can turn first to Ephesians 6:10 –

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

The Lord provides the strength, but the believer must be willing to access that strength and apply it when needed. This is again seen in Philippians 4:13 –

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

That this external grace must be worked out by us is then clearly demonstrated by Paul’s words of 1 Corinthians 15:10 –

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

Just as rain which falls from the sky rests on the good and bad (a form of grace), the grace of Christ is granted to those who have called on Him. But some will never make use of the rain and store it up for crops and the like. Others will, and they will thus have a well which to draw from. In like manner, the grace leads to labor for the wise. This is what Paul is saying to Timothy.

Life application: You have been bestowed the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ – to apply it to your life, and to use it in good times and in bad. No evangelist, pastor, or missionary has received more or less than you, although it may have been received in a different way than you. The grace of Jesus Christ is open and available to all, to strengthen us and to allow us to then be strong in Him. Let each of us endeavor to use what is available to us now, so that in the ages to come, our rewards will stand as a testimony to our faithfulness in using that which we have been given.

Lord God, You have given us grace in abundance. Your word then asks us to be strong in the power of Your might; to use Your strength for honorable purposes; and to labor abundantly, knowing that You are with us, and will give us all we need to accomplish the tasks set before us. May we understand this, and be strong in You at all times. To Your glory we pray. Amen.