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Scripture reading – 2 Timothy 1; 2 Timothy 2
Our chronological Scripture reading brings us to, “The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Timothy.” 2 Timothy is Paul’s second letter to Timothy, and the apostle’s final epistle. The date of 2 Timothy is uncertain, but is generally thought to have been written between A.D. 65-68. It was certainly authored during Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome. Today’s Scripture reading is 2 Timothy 2; however, I have determined to give priority to the first chapter of the letter as my introduction and subject of the devotional. The personal nature of the letter is moving, and is Paul’s “Last Will and Testament.” Here we have recorded the final words of one of history’s greatest men, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ” (1:1a).
We do not know the impact Paul’s letter had on Timothy, who is believed to have been the pastor of the church at Ephesus at the time. Accepting Paul’s death was imminent (4:6-7), I am certain Timothy’s eyes clouded with tears when he read, “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: 10For Demas hath forsaken me… 11Only Luke is with me” (4:9, 10a, 11). Paul then wrote a startling detail: “No man stood with me, but all men forsook me” (4:16).
Persecution, abandonment, loneliness, imprisonment, and imminent death had become Paul’s reality. The old apostle longed for the company of his “dearly beloved son” (1:2). Yet, like a father to a son, Paul was concerned for Timothy’s spiritual well-being, and bid him, “Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (1:2).
This letter was infused with Paul’s gratitude for Timothy, whom he assured, “without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day” (1:3). Reflecting on his own spiritual heritage (1:3a), the apostle reminded Timothy of his spiritual lineage passed down from his grandmother and mother (1:5; 3:15).
A Letter from Death Row (1:6-15)
After 43 years of ministry, I have learned the words of a dying man or woman can leave an indelible impression on one’s soul, especially from one we love. Surely that was true for Timothy. When he read Paul’s letter, I believe the heart of that younger preacher was stirred. Paul moved from expressing confidence in Timothy’s faith, to exhorting him to be bold in his faith, walk, and ministry. Briefly, notice Paul’s appeal to Timothy beginning with verse 6 and continuing to verse 15.
Five Spiritual Requisites (disciplines) for Ministry (1:6-15)
Be Charged Up (1:6-7) – Given the nature of Paul’s letters to Timothy, scholars believe the young preacher was prone to be timid in the face of opposition. If so, Paul feared he might lose his fervency for the Lord and ministry. Therefore, the apostle charged him to remember he was ordained by men who had seen in him the “gift of God” (perhaps spiritual or ministry gifts, 1:6; Romans 12:6-8). Paul reminded Timothy, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (1:7).
Be Courageous (1:8-10) – Paul urged Timothy to not give into shame on two fronts. The first, don’t be “ashamed of the testimony of our Lord” (knowing the name of Christ invited scorn, 1:8a). The second, don’t be ashamed of Paul, a “prisoner” of the Lord. To identify Paul as his teacher and mentor might have been cause for embarrassment. Instead, the apostle urged Timothy to be a “partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (1:8). In other words, only with God’s power would Timothy be able to accept his share of suffering for the Gospel (1:8b).
To support his call for courage, Paul reminded Timothy of the doctrine of God’s Sovereignty for suffering saints (1:9-10). When they suffer, believers must remember we are saved, “called with an holy calling,” and suffer“according to [God’s] own purpose and grace” (1:9a).
Be Convicted of One’s Calling (1:11) – Paul had no doubts concerning the ministry to which he was called, and appointed. He declared, “I am appointed,” not by man, but his appointment was received from the Lord, and he was therefore “preacher [herald], and an apostle, and a teacher [instructor] of the Gentiles” (1:11).
Be Confident (1:12) – The apostle was a prisoner, not for any wrongdoing, but because he had been faithful to his calling. Therefore, he declared, I “suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (1:12). Not only did he refuse to be ashamed, Paul’s faith was in Christ, and he was confident his life was secure until his work was ended.
Be Committed (1:13-15) – I close today’s devotion with three essential qualities that make for success, regardless of one’s endeavor. The first trait of success is Dedication –Paul wrote, “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (1:13). A second trait of success is Devotion – summed up in the word “Keep,” meaning to guard or watch. We read, “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us” (1:14). (The “good thing” must have been the gift of spiritual discernment the Holy Spirit imparts to a believer who is a student of the Gospel, doctrines, and teachings of God’s Word.)
Finally, to be successful, requires a determination to Be Faithful (1:15). Paul illustrated the requisite for determination in identifying two spiritual failures, “Phygellus and Hermogenes” (1:15). The apostle had been deserted by many (“all they” was probably a hyperbole, many he felt as though everyone had deserted him); however, in particular, two men whom Timothy must have known had left Paul in his hour of need. We know nothing more about Phygellus and Hermogenes, other than their desertion had left Paul with a bleak outlook on his life and ministry.
Believer, everyone wants to be successful (after all, no one sets out to be a failure). Yet, how many are willing to undertake the spiritual disciplines required for success.
How about you?
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