Friday, January 22, 2010

2 Timothy 1:1-7

V1-7 – 1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, 2To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Paul introduces himself in this final letter to Timothy as first and foremost “an apostle of Christ Jesus.” It’s the most important thing about his personal identity, not because he’s proud of having chosen that role. On the contrary, Paul did not choose to be Christ’s apostle to the Gentiles; rather, he was chosen, as he says, “by the will of God.” This choice was “according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.” In other words, the apostle’s role is to proclaim the gospel of Christ, that all who are chosen would be given the promise of life by faith, which comes through hearing (Romans 10:17). As Paul says elsewhere, “since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

In v2, Paul issues the same blessing he gave previously, referring to Timothy as his “dear son.” Timothy was certainly Paul’s spiritual son in the faith, as well as his protégé in ministry. The grace, mercy, and peace that are so crucial to the Christian life, come “God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” The language is unmistakable in asserting the full Deity of Jesus Christ, by equating Him with the Father.

V3-5 serve as Paul’s typical thanksgiving section of his letter. All of his letters include such a section, except for Galatians, 1 Timothy, and Titus. He says a wealth about himself in v3, not only thanking God, but also declaring that he serves Him “with a clear conscience…constantly.” Paul says that his forefathers served God as well, revealing that Paul sees no difference between New Testament Christianity and Old Testament Christianity (Acts 24:14; 26:5-6; Romans 4; 2 Corinthians 11:22; Philippians 3:5).

Paul remembers, recalls, and is reminded several times in v3-6; it’s the same Greek word (mneia). First, Paul remembers Timothy in prayer thankfully. Next, he recalls Timothy’s tears in v4, noting that most likely, the last time they parted, Timothy cried. Undoubtedly, it was as Paul was imprisoned unto certain execution. Yet Paul holds out hope that he may see Timothy once more in order that he “may be filled with joy.” Third, Paul is reminded of Timothy’s sincere faith (literally “unhypocritical” or “pure,” as in 1 Timothy 1:5), which stemmed from his mother’s side of the family. Paul knows that Timothy, as well as his mother and grandmother, have continuing faith in Yahweh’s plan of redemption, which comes through Jesus. And finally, into v6, Paul reminds Timothy that he has been equipped for ministry. We’ll look at that more closely in the next section of the text.

In v6, Paul reminds Timothy “to fan into flame the gift of God.” Timothy has sincere and living faith (v5), and he is especially gifted for ministry, but it may be that Timothy wasn’t being as passionate or bold as he ought to have been; perhaps the fire was smoldering and needed to be rekindled. Along these same lines, it appears from v7 that Timothy was afraid – a coward – or shy at best. Thus, Paul reminds him that God did not give him “a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” We must also be reminded of this truth for our own lives (Romans 8:15).

The spirit Paul speaks of is not the Holy Spirit, per se, but the empowering of Timothy’s spirit by the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit has not helped Timothy to be timid, but to be powerful (bold and courageous), loving, and self-disciplined. And Calvin comments, “He speaks of this power as accompanied by love and self-discipline in order to distinguish the power of the Spirit from the intemperate zeal of fanatics, who rush in with reckless haste and boast that they have the Spirit of God. But the power of the Spirit, the powerful energy of the Spirit, is tempered by love and sobriety. It always has a calm concern for edification.” In other words, the power Timothy has been given is for love and self-discipline, something that the false teachers did not exhibit in claiming their own power.

No comments: