Day 332 – Thru the Bible
Today we read Second Timothy. Here’s the overview video.
Video – Read Scripture: Second Timothy
How does this video help you understand Second Timothy better?
2 Timothy 1 – The messianic title “Christ Jesus” is used three times in this brief, affectionate introduction, the last of which is “Christ Jesus our Lord”—shorthand for the Gospel. As Paul says elsewhere, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord” ( Corinthians ; Corinthians ). The Gospel is no Gospel at all without the radiating person of Christ (the Anointed One promised to the nations) Jesus (the deliverer of His people) our Lord (the One who restrains and conquers all enemies to establish His blessed kingdom for our eternal reign with Him) at its very center.
Paul’s mighty opening call to endurance is utterly Gospel-centered. Embedded in the very heart of the call is one of the grandest descriptions of the Gospel in the New Testament. This description is bracketed at both ends by the very word “Gospel,” exquisitely encapsulating the grace of the Gospel.
In Paul’s description, we first see sovereign grace, because the ability to endure suffering and shame is rooted in God’s grace: “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace.” As Paul puts it in Titus 3:5, “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.” As he stated it most famously in Ephesians 2:8–9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” All glory goes to God for His sovereign, omnipotent, empowering grace!
Sovereign grace is also preexistent grace, “grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:9). Thus we understand that Jesus existed before the beginning of time and that grace preexisted in Jesus. This thought is marvelously expanded in Ephesians 1:4–6. This sovereign, preexistent grace is wholly sufficient to save us and to impart gospel endurance.
Ultimately, God’s sovereign grace, preexistent in Jesus, became visible grace in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus: “which [grace] now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” This gospel is all-powerful. It can save anyone who believes (Romans 1:16). And, it can sustain any Believer amid the rigors of suffering and shame. As Paul says, “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” The gospel-centered life will endure shame and suffering for the gospel.
How does this chapter help you connect the beauty and power of the Gospel with Jesus?
2 Timothy 2 – As Paul continues his bold call to endurance, he applies what he has just explained about God’s empowering grace to Timothy: “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
As is true of all who are in Jesus, Timothy already had the grace that claimed his heart, but that was not the end of God’s provision. Grace was also a continual source of Timothy’s (and our) power for Christian living. As John put it, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). As James remarked, “he gives more grace” (James 4:6). More grace was always there for Timothy, as it is for all Believers. Indeed, it is grace itself that strengthens Believers—“be strengthened by the grace . . .” This is true for all who are in Jesus. We are not only converted but also strengthened in the grace of the gospel. Knowing that our God loves us, forgives us, purifies us, helps us, comforts us, enables us, and secures us—all because of his mercy rather than because of our merit—encourages and strengthens us for the calling He gives us.
Paul continues his call to endurance. The opening words of the command to “Remember Jesus Christ” call for the remembrance of two things: first, Jesus was “risen from the dead,” and second, He was “the offspring of David.” “Jesus” (His human name, given at birth, meaning “deliverer”) aligns with “risen from the dead,” the victory over sin that secures our salvation. “Christ” (Messiah) aligns with “offspring of David,” a reminder of Christ’s Davidic lineage in accord with God’s promise and long-prophesied plan.
Note that in the rest of 2 Timothy Paul uses the title “Christ Jesus,” but here he says “Jesus Christ,” to correspond to his order of emphases. By remembering Jesus’ resurrection, we recall the gospel’s awesome power (Romans 6:4; 1 Corinthians 15:20–22; Ephesians 1:19–20). By remembering Christ’s messiahship, we recall God’s awesome faithfulness, fulfilling all the Scriptures (Luke 24:26–27) and honoring the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:12–16).
The Savior’s resurrection and messiahship make up the essential gospel. Certainly there are other crucial elements in the gospel (Christ’s atoning death, imputed righteousness that comes by faith alone through Jesus alone, and so on), but this text is code for the whole thing. “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel.” “Remember” is a continuous command (“remember, and keep on remembering”) because it is this theological remembrance of God’s long but resolute and irresistible faithfulness that will steel every Believer to endure.
Paul caps his long call to gospel endurance (which began in 1:6) with an easy-to-remember four-stanza poem. Each stanza begins with an “if we . . .” phrase that introduces specific conduct, followed by a corresponding phrase that gives the response to the conduct. The first three stanzas record predictable (equitable) responses. But the fourth stanza, that begins with “if we are faithless,” is followed by a surprise response, one that is gloriously inequitable: “he remains faithful.” This is followed by the magnificent reason, “for he cannot deny himself.”
Here is unforgettable comfort for all who attempt to endure for the gospel. Though we may sometimes waver and fall into unfaithfulness in our efforts to endure, God remains faithful. No one is always faithful; only Jesus is perfectly faithful. And yet in the beauty of the gospel, it is Jesus’ own faithfulness that provides the very reason that God can be faithful to faithless sinners. How encouraging to all who desire to endure!
How does this remind you to rely upon the saving and sustaining power of God’s grace?
2 Timothy 3 – After providing wisdom for dealing with false teachers ( ), followed by a profile of false teachers ( ), Paul issues a three-tiered call to endure for the gospel ( ).
The first tier is an implicit call for Timothy to endure, as Paul reminds his young protégé that he has been a close observer of everything in Paul’s life, culminating in Paul’s endurance of multiple persecutions. This reminder was a gentle, fatherly prod for Timothy to shoulder the same noble mantle that comes with a life committed to the gospel. With this, Paul presents a universal truth regarding such a life: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
This is one of the great glories of the gospel, because suffering for the gospel is a palpable link to the suffering of our Messiah. This became part of Paul’s spiritual DNA from the beginning of his spiritual life on the road to Damascus when, following a blinding flash, Jesus called to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). Saul’s attack upon Christians (those in Christ) was an attack on Jesus Himself. Significantly, Ananias of Damascus was immediately commissioned to go to Saul, “For,” as Jesus explained, “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16).
Indeed, Paul’s sufferings were enough to break a thousand lesser men (2 Corinthians 11:23–29). But the abiding glory of Paul’s life, and of those who likewise endure suffering for the gospel, is that the Messiah suffers in and with them. Such suffering can only turn out for our glory and the advancement of His purposes (2 Corinthians 4:16–18). By such suffering we not only learn more of how great was the love of the Prince of Heaven who gave Himself for us, but also we identify with Him, participate in His purposes for others in a world that opposes Him, and fill up in our sufferings what is needed for Jesus’ mission in the world to continue until the day of His ultimate victory and return (Colossians 1:24).
Verses 14-17, the second tier in Paul’s welling call to endure, ends with the famous declaration of the inspiration and usefulness of all of Scripture. The statement in full is foundational to understanding the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. Volumes have been written on it.
However, as important as the text is in teaching us about the nature of Scripture, it actually serves to anchor Paul’s overarching concern that Timothy endure in the gospel. Paul exhorts Timothy to give close attention to the Scriptures and to “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” The “sacred writings” here primarily refer to the Old Testament, as does “All Scripture” in the statement that “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (which follows).
We learn, then, that the Old Testament Scriptures are key to understanding the gospel and who Messiah Jesus is. In fact, they are full of Messiah Jesus. Without Him, the Old Testament does not make sense (Luke 24:25–27, 44–47; John 5:39–40; 1 Corinthians 15:1–4; Acts 10:42–43). That is why the Scriptures “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”—and this ancient saving wisdom will help us endure suffering for the sake of the gospel.
The fact that these gospel-testifying Scriptures are “breathed out by God” gives us confidence that Scripture is trustworthy and authoritative for our lives, guiding us graciously into all that is good.
A large part of our journey through the Bible this year was to reveal how the Old Testament continually reveals points us to Jesus.
Thinking back through all of our time on the Old Testament this year, how has it helped you see Jesus throughout the Bible?
2 Timothy 4 – The final tier in Paul’s call to bold gospel endurance begins with the ringing charge to “preach the word.” Paul reminds Timothy that God and Jesus, having first commissioned Timothy to preach, will also ultimately hold the preacher accountable for faithfulness to the message of the inspired Scriptures. In light of this heavenly commissioning, the charge is then immediately and appropriately coupled to a call to constancy despite the unpredictable nature of this world: “be ready in season and out of season.”
Paul gives two reasons for this awesome charge. The first is in verses 3–5: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching.” Timothy must persevere steadily, because people will be fickle. Paul therefore directs Timothy to gospel-centered endurance. “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist [literally, one who speaks the gospel], fulfill your ministry.”
The second reason Paul gives for carrying on his mighty charge to “preach the word” is his own example of endurance in the gospel enterprise. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Paul is passing the baton of faithful preaching, knowing that he is nearing the end of his earthly race.
In light of his own faithful example, could anything be more motivating than the throbbing, blood-earnestness of this last-will-and-testament appeal of Paul to his beloved child, Timothy? Only this: “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” To encourage Timothy, Paul does not merely point backward to his example but also forward to the day when earthly faithfulness will be recognized and rewarded by heaven’s King. A comparison of the vocabulary here with that of verse 1 reveals that “the Lord, the righteous judge” is “Christ Jesus.” It is Messiah Jesus, the source and center of the gospel, the one in whom “all the promises of God find their Yes” (2 Corinthians 1:20)—this Messiah will award the crown of righteousness. What a day that will be!
Who is the Paul in your life (one who mentors and encourages you in the gospel)?
Who is the Timothy in your life (the one you pour your life into and encourage in the gospel)?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
Videos produced by www.TheGospelProject.com.
All links you need to be a part of this are here – Thru the Bible in 2018.