2 TIMOTHY 1
This was the Apostle Paul’s final letter ever – before his death! It therefore reads like a last will and testament. He had a parting legacy for his ‘son’ (in the faith) Timothy – in fact, an entire inheritance! “Timothy, I’m handing over to you the Gospel; please look after it with care and use it well”. If you, dear reader, are a Christian believer today, then it is Paul’s legacy of the gospel that you have to thank for your salvation; without his vision to take the message of Christ to the entire empire, Christianity would be just another Middle Eastern faith defending itself against the pagan hordes of the Western World and the Far East. If the largest and most prominent cathedral in the world had to be named after an early apostle, then we ought to be speaking about “St. Paul’s, Rome”, rather than “St. Peter’s”!
By now, Paul was writing by candlelight in a cold dungeon in Rome, chained at Nero’s decree and charged with a capital offence: loving Christ more than he respected the emperor. Unlike the first imprisonment (a comfortable house arrest) from AD 60 to 62, there would be no reprieve for Paul this time. It was AD 66 or 67 and, despite having the status of ‘Citizen of Rome’, Paul knew that his days were numbered. He was virtually alone, except for Luke, and had been deserted by many companions he’d previously trusted. Furthermore, his faithful co-workers were mostly all involved in planting and growing churches throughout the empire; Paul was lonely and wanted to see his spiritual son and best friend, Timothy, once more. He also wanted to ensure that the gospel – his gospel, for which he had suffered so much – was safely delivered to the next generation. As mature Christians today, and perhaps as Christian parents, we need to acquire that same sense of urgency for our next generation! The Second Letter to Timothy is Paul’s “Desert Island Discs” where he selects the most important truths to pass on to us as well as to his spiritual son.
“Fan into flame the gift of God (evangelism), which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:6-7). He in us overcomes our natural weaknesses and substitutes God’s power and ability instead. Timothy was poor human raw material for front-line evangelism: he lacked confidence, he was nervous and prone to digestive illnesses as a result; also, he had an inferiority complex because he was young. But he did have a wonderfully generous heart and he trusted and obeyed the Lord. He was also not ashamed to confess his connection with Jesus Christ. That’s all the Holy Spirit needs.
“He 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…” (1:9). Yet again, Paul reminds us that we are chosen in Christ, before the creation of the world; our salvation is no accident, and we cannot claim credit even for being sensible enough to choose him. “You did not choose me, but I chose you…” said Jesus himself (John 15:16) and “It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus…” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Only when we realize the true grace of God in our lives, will we be able to give ourselves fully to the work of God, understanding the deep power of the gospel and realizing that no-one – however unreachable they seem to us – is beyond the hope of salvation when God is involved. The absolute grace of God in salvation is an encouragement to widen our horizons and expect that anyone could realistically be saved. And as we walk in step with the Holy Spirit, we can have the joy of being instrumental in raising the spiritually dead to know the Risen One.
“…I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that Day”. “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us” (2 Timothy 1:12,14). We see here a classic example of Paul’s teaching, blending divine sovereignty with human responsibility: both the Holy Spirit and Timothy are tasked with guarding the purity of the gospel and in transmitting it to the world. By the grace of God, that Holy Spirit lives in Timothy and that same Spirit now lives in our bodies too.