Monday, January 25, 2010

2 Timothy 1:8-14

V8-14 – 8So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me His prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day. 13What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

This entire passage is the body of the letter (v8-14 is one sentence in Greek), including an exhortation to boldness and faithfulness. Timothy should “not be ashamed to testify about our Lord” (Acts 1:8), because he has been given “a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (v7). The mention of Paul as a prisoner of God in v8 is meant to encourage Timothy to boldness, for many times did Paul urge his followers to model him in ministry and Christian living. To be a prisoner of God and for God is the height of Christian living, because such a position eliminates both selfishness and fear. Paul was not ashamed, and he was proud of being unashamed, as he should have been. And Jesus tells us not to be ashamed of Him, lest He be ashamed of us on Judgment Day (Matthew 10:33). Those called to be preachers must preach the Good News regardless of cost or consequences. Paul urges Timothy to join him “in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” Being united to Christ in suffering is a blessing, because it means that we are united to Him in death and life eternal!

V9 is an important doctrinal reminder to Timothy from the pen of Paul. God’s action of saving an individual includes the calling to service and holy living. Paul’s teaching here recalls the covenant language of the Old Testament; Paul sees New Testament believers as equivalent, a continuation of the Old Testament faithful (Israel). God elects certain sinners (those who in time become believers) for glorification through sanctification, which in turn comes through justification (Romans 8:28-30). This election is “not because of anything we have done but because of His own [gracious] purpose.” Many ask about this purpose, and we conclude that His purpose is “mercy” (Titus 3:5; Romans 9:14-24) and love (Ephesians 1:4-5). This gracious election and calling was given to us in Christ “before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8). In other words, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not an afterthought; we were predestined to holiness (set apart), to be conformed to God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27), the image of Christ. 1 Timothy 1:9 serves as an echo of Romans 8:29, which says, “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.”

V10 describes Christ as the mediator of the gospel of grace by destroying death and bringing “life and immortality to light.” He did this at His epiphany, His first coming, though the same Greek word also speaks of His second advent. Again, when Paul refers to “our Savior, Jesus Christ,” he is clearly equating Father and Son as two of the three Persons of the one and only Triune Deity. The Pastoral Letters go and back-and-forth calling God savior and Jesus savior, using identical language. Perhaps this characteristic was expressly for combating the common exclamation that Caesar was savior divine.

In v11, Paul returns to his own ministry, which got this ball rolling back in v8. He lists not so much the gifts he received for his ministry but the tasks he was appointed to accomplish with his very life. Heraldry, apostleship, and teaching referred to his tasks of preaching the gospel, being sent out to the Gentiles for the gospel, and training / edifying the saints for the sake of the gospel. He was also called to suffer (Acts 9:16; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 6:3-10; 11:24-28) for the gospel, which in a sense, proved that he was faithful to his God-appointed mission. It became no longer a disgrace but an honor to suffer for the gospel; he wasn’t ashamed of it, because he had an ongoing, intimate relationship with Jesus (v12). There were a lot of uncertainties for Paul, but he was convinced that God guards His own people (Romans 4:20-21), that Jesus will accomplish His purposes in and through His people, (“what I have entrusted to Him” – our very selves) until “that day,” those who have by grace believed the gospel and professed that Jesus is Lord. At the end of v12, Paul speaks of that day; he’s referring in Old Testament language to Judgment Day (v18), the day of the consummation of the Kingdom of God.

Finally, in v13-14, Paul returns to his point, that Timothy needs to cling to the sound doctrine that he had learned from Paul. Not only does Timothy need to hold on to it for himself, but he also needs to guard it from false teachers so that it doesn’t get corrupted. He must do this, intending to pass it on “with faith and love in Christ Jesus,” “with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” You’ve heard, “Don’t just stand there! Do something!” Well, Paul is effectively teaching the opposite, for Timothy must ensure that his stance is firm in God’s word, or else whatever he does won’t matter. “Don’t just do something! Stand there!” In concluding this lengthy sentence, Paul practically passes over a great and valuable truth of the Christian faith. The Holy Spirit lives in us! Throughout the Bible, we see the unity of the Father, Son, and Spirit in the truth that They indwell believers, and the Son and Spirit are even referred to with the same names (“Truth” and “Advocate” – John 14:6,16,17; 16:7,13; 1 John 2:1).

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