2 TIMOTHY 1
Enter subtitle here
6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
Not that we are to infer that Timothy was negligent, but all need the exhortation to patient and sustained spiritual activity. Paul knew he would soon be gone, and the younger man who had worked with him and depended on him would be facing ecclesial problems alone. He was writing to Timothy of the greatness and surety of the divine purpose, the vast power that controls all and shapes all things to the divine end, the love and joy that casts out all fear *
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Power, and love, and a sound mind. This is the spirit that God gives us. All the power was on Paul's side. And so he counsels with cheerful assurance, though forsaken and in prison and facing death. *
8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
"I am not ashamed," he says. He was not ashamed or afraid to meet scorn and ridicule and peril for the sake of the Truth. Why was he not when others were? Was he naturally any different from them? No, his secret was, as he says in v 12 --
"I am not ashamed, BECAUSE I KNOW Whom I have believed!"
He KNEW God. He did not just know about Him. He knew Him by close, personal acquaintance. Such knowledge does not come overnight. It takes time. The intimate companionship of God is not for every light and casual seeker. Solomon says --
"When thou vowest, defer not to pay it; GOD HATH NO PLEASURE IN FOOLS" (Ecc. 5:4).
This seems a "hard saying," but it conveys an important principle of divine wisdom. Getting to know God must be taken seriously, and must be made the center of life's purpose. And we must be prepared to wait in patience, though the vision seem to tarry long. Can God be expected to open Himself to one whose heart is not firmly set on developing the acquaintance into permanent devoted affection? "God hath no pleasure in fools" -- thoughtless, shallow-minded people who are divided in their interests. Paul knew Him, and therefore could say --
"NONE OF THESE THINGS MOVE ME."
What triumphant peace of mind! Paul was not above human feelings. He had simply availed himself of something that was far mightier -- the God-given spirit of "power and love and of a sound mind." He said to the Corinthians that he was "perplexed, but not in despair." In the present darkness perplexity cannot be avoided. It is part of the training. But it need not, and must not, lead to despair. *
9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
While a believer is out of Christ, he is in his sins, and while he is in his sins he is under the sentence of death; for "the wages of sin is death." As soon, however, as his sins are forgiven through Christ's name, in the act of forgiveness he passes from under the sentence of death; and as there is no middle, or neutral, position, he comes under the sentence of life, and rejoices in hope of the kingdom of God...
There is no other way of obtaining them than through his name, and by a resurrection from the dead; or, if living at the setting up of the kingdom, by a change in the twinkling of an eye. Such is the doctrine of Christ as opposed to the vain philosophy of Plato.
The papist and protestant admirers of this heathen speculator, contend for the hereditary immortality of an immaterial essence, innate in sinful flesh; while the Lord Jesus has made known that life and incorruptibility are attributes of the kingdom of God, which they only can obtain who are accounted worthy on gospel principles of inheriting it... incorruptible life is part of the reward of the righteous; and no where in the Bible is immortality predicated of, or promised to, men who die in their sins.
Out of Christ, immortality there is none.
Elpis Israel 2.5.
11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
In the earliest years of the ecclesia in Rome, its faith was spoken of throughout all the empire. Its members presented their bodies a living sacrifice, and were not conformed to the world; but were transformed by the renewing of their mind; which was characterized by unanimity, a disregard of high things, and association with men of low estate.
The Star-Angel that ruled them was neither "Bishop of Rome," "Universal Bishop," nor "Pope;" but a presbytery, or eldership, of inspired men of low degree in society, whose only ambition it was to be "glorified together with Jesus Christ." They would have rejected with indignation and contempt the idea of being united with the State, or any state, as "the Church by law established."
Their mission was to convert sinners from the error of their way, not to form alliances with them; for they well knew that the friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15).
But this state of ecclesiastical affairs, so highly commendable, did not continue very long undisturbed by "unlearned questions and strifes of words," which do not edify. Peter's use of the SECOND KEY entrusted to him, and to him only, to the exclusion of all successors in Caesarea and elsewhere, aroused all the latent prejudices of the Jewish mind, whether identified with the Synagogue or the Ecclesia.
The Jewish element of the Body of Christ soon found themselves in the minority; and that the uncircumcised were rejoicing in things which Peter said nothing about, when, by the use of the FIRST KEY, he opened the door of faith to them. Some of them were Judaistically disposed, while others who had been added from the Synagogue were but partially enlightened, and developed themselves as "false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily (or with a secret purpose) to spy out the liberty which the Gentile party had in Christ Jesus, that they might bring it into bondage."
These false brethren stood up in all the ecclesias of Christ, and became the occasion of much trouble and anxiety to Paul, who was "preacher, apostle, and teacher of the Gentiles" . Thus, Paul being especially the apostle of the uncircumcision, and Peter the apostle of the circumcision, in Corinth the Judaizers said they were of Cephas, or Peter; while their Opponents, who advocated liberty from Mosaic bondage, said they were of Paul.
The same condition of things manifested itself in Rome. The false brethren there were zealous for Peter, in whom they boasted as the Prince of the Apostles and Holder of the Keys. Their dogma was, that "it was needful to circumcise the Gentile converts to Christ, and to command them to keep the law of Moses, or they would not be saved" (Acts 15:1,5): and, although this was contradicted by all the apostles as well as Paul, they continued to teach it; and with so much success, that the leaders of the faction and their disciples through-out Asia Minor, all turned away from Paul (2 Tim. 1:15); whom they did not hesitate to speak of evilly and with disrespect.
The false brethren in Rome were not behind their brethren in the provinces in zeal for the propagation of their traditions. By their fruits they were proved to be "grievous wolves, not sparing the flock; and speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them." Their party was in secret alliance with the Synagogue; and their purpose seems to have been to Judaize Christianity, and then to use it in this corrupt form to turn the idolators from Jupiter to Moses, and subordinately, to Christ. In this way they would draw disciples after them, and thus acquire importance and influence in the world, which they clearly perceived were not to be obtained by devotion to the unadulterated Word.
The interests of Christ's flock they measured by their own selfishness, which was promoted by the assumption of clerical lordship over the multitude of them that believed. Paul alludes to these "grievous wolves," overlaid with wool, styled by Christ Jesus, "false prophets who come in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves," in his letter to the saints in Rome, ch. 16:17, saying,
"I beseech you, brethren, mark them who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine you have learned; and AVOID THEM. For they that are such serve not the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple."
They caused divisions and offences, which, when viewed in the light of the apostolic teaching, and that of the Star-Angel which presided over them, were clearly seen to be such.
Now, it was from this Judaizing Faction in the Ecclesia at Rome all those evils sprung, which afterwards attained maturity as "THE CHURCH OF ROME."
15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
Paul's second letter to Timothy was written to strengthen and encourage him. Paul was a prisoner in Rome, about to be put to death for his service to Christ. Timothy was laboring in the Truth at some distant place. Paul appears to fear that Timothy was somewhat disheartened. Truly there was much to cause discouragement. Things were not going well with the Truth. They never have and never will. This the day of small things -- of trial and probation and darkness and faith.
In reading the epistles we are impressed with how personal and individual a thing early Christianity was. It hung to a large extent on the shoulders of this one man and the few who were willing to give their lives to help him. Writing to the Philippians (also from prison) he said (Phil. 2:19-20) --
"I trust in the Lord to send Timothy shortly unto you. I have no man likeminded who will naturally care for your state, for ALL SEEK THEIR OWN -- not the things that are Christ's."
All were wrapped up in their own little lives and affairs, too busy to accept the honoUr and glory of a part in the most wonderful and history-making endeavor that the world has ever seen. What is left now of the things they thought so important?
But Timothy -- though he early chose the one thing which was needful and held fast to it to the end -- could get discouraged too. And though writing to encourage him, the external picture that Paul gives is not a happy one. His comfort did not rest or depend on temporary and external conditions, but on the immovable facts of the external purpose. In 1:15 he says,
"This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me."
And in 4: 10 --
"Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world."
And verse 16 --
"At my first answer, no one stood with me, but all forsook me." *
16 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
Timothy would wonder if there were any point in trying to maintain and hold together an organized body of believers -- in trying to carry on ecclesial arrangements. Here was Paul, the very heart of the movement, a prisoner facing execution, and the body of so-called Christians he had gotten together had almost completely deserted him.
How pathetically he mentions Onesiphorus -- one, at least, who sought him out in his imprisonment and was not ashamed of his chains. What a state of affairs -- when one brother stands out for grateful commendation for not having been ashamed of association with the apostle in his hour of humiliation and trial! But Paul relates these things without any bitterness or despair. He knows God's purpose cannot fail. *
* Bro Growcott - I am ready to be offered.