2 Timothy 2: 1-13
This section is, in some ways, a continuation of the themes of the previous section. It continues the focus on suffering for the gospel particularly, and also extends the synopsis of the gospel which was begun in chapter 1.
I like Paul’s initial encouragement: “You, then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
This is something we all must focus on. 2 Timothy is clearly a book about suffering, motivated by Paul’s position as a prisoner facing execution. He is writing to Timothy, a disciple of his and the man he selected to pastor the church at Ephesus, who himself struggled with fears and uncertainty in his position. Both men are facing struggles for their faith, greater struggles than we will face, most likely, and yet both persevere.
Their success comes mostly from Paul’s encouragement here. “Be strengthened by grace.” We must, as they did, always look to the cross when we face pain, struggles, and uncertainty. There is nothing that cannot be overcome by the knowledge that Christ died for our sins, and that in his death we have eternal life. Paul knew this. Timothy knew this. We must know this.
I also like the phrase “in the presence of many witnesses.” This is an important reminder for us as we face questions about our faith. Tim Keller once challenged that those who demand that our faith is false must themselves provide a logical explanation for the existence of the Church. This is a good reminder of that. The witnesses that are mentioned throughout the New Testament, especially those mentioned by name, are put there for a reasons: so that people could talk to them. We must remember this.
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”
We are always to focus on the gospel. This does not mean that we are not to live our lives on Earth, but we must always infuse those lives with the gospel. As Paul says, do not become “entangled” in Earthly things. To get entangled evokes getting stuck, getting frozen in place. We can become entangled when we focus on Earthly things and fail to see God in them. God doesn’t want that for us, and we shouldn’t want that for ourselves.
Verse 7 shouldn’t be overlooked, in fact it should be promoted greatly. In today’s society, we are so obsessed with celebrity that we have even promoted our pastors to celebrity. I am not innocent of this, as I am a listener and a reader of many of the more “famous” pastors. But we should always keep in mind that even those pastors, even Tim Keller and John Piper, are fallible, are human. Only God provides true understanding.
Verse 10 is an incredible challenge for us. “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus.”
Paul is a soldier who will take any suffering in order to deliver the gospel to God’s people. How can we emulate this? It goes back to verse one: “be strengthened by grace.” We must remember how blessed we are, what a great wonder it is to know that we are forgiven, that we are loved. Then we must share that with others. It is not an easy step; we will be uncomfortable, we will often be uncertain, but we must share the gospel. How could we possibly deprive others of this joy?