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When we meet in person, we take time to share our joys and concerns. If you have any prayer requests you would like to share, you can add them as a comment to this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Dear Father, seer of my inmost thoughts,
Give me a clear conscience in my service to you. Then fill my mouth with prayers to you as I intercede for those I love. Let my contacts with them be sources of great joy for all of us. Let the sincere faith of our mothers and fathers and other relatives take root in us and grow.
Whatever gift you have given me, help me rekindle it every day and fan it into a flame of service and love for you.
Help me live boldly for you, for you did not give me a spirit of timidity but a spirit of love and power and inward strength.
Don't let me ever be ashamed of bearing witness about our Lord. Let me take my share of suffering for the gospel and rely on your power.
In the name and power of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Today's lesson is on 2 Timothy 1:3-14. The "I" in the text is Paul speaking.
The book of 2 Timothy was written by Paul while he was in prison to Timothy. Our book says it was written about 67 AD, and was Paul's final writing before his execution in Rome.
We are first introduced to Timothy in Acts 16:1-3, during Paul's second missionary journey. Timothy's mother followed Judaism, but his father was Greek. He lived in Lystra, which is in modern-day Turkey. Timothy left his home, and travelled with Paul. Timothy was relatively young (1 Timothy 4:12).
Paul trusted Timothy, and Timothy is named as a co-sender of some of Paul's letters (2 Corinthians 1:1). At some point, Timothy was imprisoned because of his dedication to the gospel (Hebrews 13:23). After traveling with Paul, Timothy seems to have settled into a ministry in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3), which is also in modern Turkey.
Reminder of Heritage (verses 3-7)
Paul opens his letter with a greeting, which is pretty standard. Then, Paul talks about praying constantly for Timothy. His prayers are relentless, constant, day and night. Our book says that this prayer is a primary practice for Paul. Prayer is incredibly important.
Paul and Timothy have a close bond. It sounds as if Timothy was upset by Paul's leaving the last time they saw each other. However, Paul hopes that they will see each other again.
As mentioned in the introduction, Timothy was not an absolute newcomer to godliness when Paul met him. Timothy was raised with sincere faith, characterized by a complete lack of hypocrisy. Lois and Eunice (Timothy's grandmother and mother) both have Greek names, which our book says suggests that the women were ethnically Greek. However, Acts 16:1 says that Timothy's mother was Jewish and a believer, and other sources say that Timothy would have been of mixed race. In any case, Timothy had a background in what we consider the Old Testament before accepting Jesus.
We finally come to the reason for Paul's letter: Timothy needed to exert leadership in the face of the challenges before him. The challenges are discussed later in the letter. Our book focuses on the gifts. Paul, by the laying on of his hands, conferred on Timothy either salvation or a spiritual gift. Our book speculates that the laying of hands would have happened at a commissioning ceremony. An inward spiritual gift would have been received during the outward ceremony.
This gift, whatever it exactly is, does not make us timid. It is divine in nature, and should cause focus on God's strength and character.
Reason for Faithfulness (verses 8-12)
Suffering for the gospel includes Paul's imprisonment. Timothy was following the message of a leader awaiting execution. Could that message have any credibility? Paul follows up by telling Timothy that he would also have to suffer. He would have to accept that Paul was imprisoned for preaching the gospel, but that did not invalidate the truth of the message. The power and wisdom of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, will always look shameful and weak to the world (1 Corinthians 1:25-31).
Paul next talks about two doctrines of the church: justification and sanctification. Justification is what happens for a person's salvation to occur. Sanctification is what should happen after salvation occurs. We are saved by God's grace. The death and resurrection of the flesh and blood Christ Jesus has shown us this.
Continuing, Paul says he was appointed a herald, apostle and teacher of the gospel. A herald is a loud, public proclamation. Our book says that the original Greek noun is rare to find in the Bible, but the verb version ("to herald") is fairly common. This may indicate that the act of preaching is more important that the position of a preacher. There is an overlap in the roles of herald, apostle and teacher. An apostle was called to preach and teach.
Paul is suffering because he is following the call to preach and teach the gospel. Culturally, he should have felt shame for being imprisoned. But preaching and teaching was what he was supposed to do, so there was no reason for shame.
Requirement of Soundness (verses 13-14)
Paul returns to directly addressing Timothy. Verse 13 effectively says that Timothy should consider Paul's teaching an example of correct doctrine. Timothy should maintain his faith and love in the gospel of Christ Jesus.
Timothy has also been entrusted with the call to proclaim the gospel. He should rely on the strength available from the help of the Holy Spirit.
In our media-saturated environment, it can be hard to find the space for sound, healthy teaching. It is easy to get carried away with worries over the state of the world, the state of society, or any number of other things. May today's text remind us to center our focus on the life-altering power of the gospel. Let us resolve to make Paul's charge to Timothy his charge to us as well.
Heavenly Father, guard our hearts and our minds from despair and shame. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, show us how to live courageously and proclaim the gospel fearlessly. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Questions for Discussion
This week's benediction is from the Modern English Version.
Next week's lesson is on James 2:1-12.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.