Timothy 2:1-13

v1-2: In the context of the good and bad examples Paul has just reminded Timothy of (“You then“) Paul urges Timothy to “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus”. I’m not sure how Paul means that grace will strengthen Timothy. In one sense it’s obvious – if Timothy is given strength, where could it come from but God’s grace! – but I think it means more than that, perhaps that remembering what heaven will be like will strengthen Timothy to endure whatever happens now. I wonder if the three analogies in v3-6 aren’t unpacking this instruction – they are all strong men who are motivated by a future reward. (Ephesians 6:10ff “be strong in the Lord…” might also be relevant – Timothy, in Ephesus, would probably recall Paul’s earlier letter.) Timothy, like Paul, is to tell the gospel to “many”, but to “entrust” (1:12, 14) it to faithful men who are able to teach – they will be the shepherds and defenders of the original, true gospel.

v3-4: Having shared the message, Timothy is to share in suffering with those who have received it, and to be single-minded in serving the Lord. This is a sobering instruction, and Timothy (and we) will only follow it if he aims “to please the one who enlisted him”. I’m not sure whether this is referring to Jesus or Paul (Jesus seems more likely in light of 2:15) but Timothy is to concentrate on pleasing those above him rather than on saving himself trouble.

v5: The crown here is the laurel crown of victory, not a monarch’s crown of power. Timothy will only be rewarded for his race if he follows the rules – unlike others (eg 2:17-18) he mustn’t swerve from the message he’s heard but must preach and defend that message.

v6: The reward seems to be the very people who Timothy has worked for. I can see how this could work – people in heaven coming up to him and saying, “thanks, Tim, for telling me the gospel and making sure I kept with it.” The application? Work hard!

v7: The fact that I don’t properly understand all the analogies doesn’t mean I should give up, but that I should think and I should ask the Lord for help – trusting that he wants me to and will help me to understand his word. It’s worth noting that Paul applies two of these metaphors to his own life in 4:7. Again, he’s telling Timothy, “do what I did, like I did it.”

v8-9: To keep him going, Timothy had to remember Jesus Christ, and Paul reminded Timothy of two facts about Jesus. Firstly he is “risen from the dead”, which would have reminded Timothy of the sure hope of his own resurrection and put his sufferings in their place. Secondly, Paul said Jesus is “the offspring of David”. I’m not sure why he mentioned this here, though it does seem that these two were the heart of Paul’s gospel (Romans 1:3-4) and may have reminded Timothy that Jesus is King over everything and whatever happens on earth can’t change that. Calling it “my gospel” doesn’t stop it being “the gospel of God” or “the gospel of his Son” (Romans 1:1,9) but I assume it means “as preached in the gospel which I preach, for which…”. Though Paul is bound in prison, “the word of God is not bound!” Amen, hallelujah!

v10: Because Paul’s suffering doesn’t stop the spread of the word, Paul is willing to “endure everything”. Moreover, he is enduring for the elect, so he knows he isn’t striving in vain but God will bring everyone of them to “salvation…with eternal glory.” It seems that he’s not just refering to converting the elect, but to ensuring that they remain in the faith – while he’s standing up to suffering he acts as an example to all the believers. The trustworthy saying of v11-13 seems aimed at all Christians (v14) so it links in nicely here to say that Paul isn’t just enduring for the initial salvation of the elect, but that they would remain faithful and so receive more “eternal glory”.

v11-13: This saying employs parallelism, so that it only makes two distinct points but each is made twice with slightly different wording. If we have died with him (surely meaning the “death” of baptism and repentance) we will live with him, and if we endure in believing we will reign with him. The literary parallels show that v13 isn’t an encouragement (“don’t worry, God won’t abandon us even if we abandon him!”) but a warning – “faithful” must mean faithful to his promises or character, that those who reject him he will reject. This is further implied by “he cannot deny himself” – he can’t not be who he is. Indeed, the one who is to “deny himself” is the Christian (Mark 8:34). A helpful reference in the ESV is to Romans 3:3 which, I think, makes the same point but more clearly. It must have been an encouragement to Paul who had endured to think about these truths near the end of his life.

Heavenly Father, I ask that I would be increasingly strengthened, entrusting the message to others, single-minded, obdedient, hard-working, faithful, persevering. Above all, I pray that you would teach me to remember Jesus Christ – the reason, example and power for my sanctification. Amen.

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