Monday, February 01, 2010

2 Timothy 2:8-14

V8-14 – 8Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. 11Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us; 13if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself. 14Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

Paul begins this passage speaking of the importance of the resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection serves as the basis for his hope (v10-12), Timothy’s hope, and ours as well. Paul also notes that Jesus “descended from David.” This referral may be to emphasize His humanity, or perhaps to highlight the fulfillment of prophecy. Paul calls the preaching of the resurrected man, Jesus Christ, “my gospel,” implying, along with the suffering mentioned in v9, that he has taken full ownership of it, or rather, that it has taken full ownership of him. He voluntarily, actively, and steadfastly serves the gospel as a slave (v10), enduring all things – even imprisonment, “being chained like a criminal” (v9) – “for the sake of the elect.” Paul’s passion lies in the edification of the church (Colossians 1:24), the salvation of God’s people unto glory, both the glory of God in Christ, and the reflection of His glory in His people. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13); not only did Jesus provide the example for us, but Paul did as well.

Paul jots down “a trustworthy saying” (1 Timothy 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; Titus 3:8), and most commentators think what follows (v11-13) is part of an early Christian hymn. The primary message of this passage is loyalty to Christ. Paul notes the union that we have with Christ in both death and coram deo life (v11; Romans 8:29), referring to baptism (Romans 6:1-11; Galatians 2:20; Mark 14:31; 2 Corinthians 7:3), and the perseverance (guaranteed, as suggested by the grammatical construction) we must pursue, overcoming sin and death (2 Corinthians 4:10) unto a reign in eternal glory (v10b,12a). (The details of this eternal and glorious reign are left out.) Paul also issues a sharp warning against apostasy (v12b), due to the age of persecution, torture, and death; but then he mentions the assurance we have through Christ’s faithfulness to His own (v13). Although believers may become faithless in some sense or degree, God remains faithful to those who are His own, to those whom He knows (Matthew 7:23; 11:27; Galatians 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:19); His character, unlike ours, doesn’t change (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2).

Finally v14 – “keep reminding them of these things” – seems to be in reference to the previous verses (v8-13, or v11-13), which helps us to make sense out of v7 as well; still some commentators see v14 as looking ahead to v15-19. Either way, Paul is exhorting Timothy to literally declare earnestly and solemnly in godliness the truth of the gospel, which will, at the same time, eliminate theological speculation (v14), expose the faults of the false teachers, and keep the audience from being ruined (v14), which is the Greek word for “catastrophe.” This is an important endeavor!

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